The Mars 500 Experiment ended on November 4, 2011. A team of six international would-be astronauts – 1 Frenchman, 3 Russians, 1 Chinese, and 1 Italian – have lived in a 20 meter long tube stashed inside a parking garage since June 3, 2010. The crew was all male because a prior attempt went horribly wrong when a male Russian tried to forcibly French-kiss his Canadian crewmate.
Scientists with the European Space Agency estimate that a Mars mission would last about 500 days. The space ship to make it possible doesn’t exist, but the experiment allowed researchers to study the physical and emotional effects of prolonged confinement and relative isolation. The experiment was deemed a success when the six smiling men exited their metallic home at the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems. No one had dropped out along the way or become ill, but the men had lost a lot of weight. French crewmember Romain Charles said, “Today, after a motionless trip of 520 days, I’m proud to prove, with my international crewmates, that a human journey to the red planet is feasible.”
Today’s expression, être né sous une bonne étoile (etruh nay sue oon bun aytwal) means “to be born under a lucky star.” I’m sure all the crewmembers felt lucky to be out of their tube and able to see the real stars for the first time in 520 days.