So far, we’ve only seen Mars through the eyes of machines. Man has not yet set foot onto the red planet. The first manned mission to Mars is in the future. Before this, a lot needs to be tested, among other things the suits of the astronauts. We attended the Austrian Space Forum’s (ÖWF) field simulation “Mars2013” for two days – in the faraway Moroccan desert.
From February 1st until February 28th, 2013, the ÖWF tests their space suit Aouda X in the Moroccan desert near the Algerian border. Topographical and geological similarities of the desert and the Mars surface allow for good test conditions in Morocco.
The suit is to be made fit for space and is currently undergoing the first tests outside of the laboratory. Because the astronaut is entirely on his own on missions, the suit must offer the optimum support for him – even an exoskeleton is integrated into the suit. The astronaut’s biodata can be checked via the suit, too. When dangers are impending, for example when CO2 builds up in the helmet, the astronaut is warned.
The astronaut is completely without cables and pipes. Data transfer works via wireless LAN. The helmet contains a camera which can wirelessly transmit images. The technology was provided by the network specialists of Lancom System GmbH. In the Moroccan desert, different battery powered wireless LAN distributors were set up, which permit the communication with the astronaut and his suit.
For two whole days we accompanied the ÖWF-team within the scope of Mars2013. Hot days and cool nights made shooting in the desert an adventure. Despite the strains of travel, unfamiliar temperature changes and a foreign environment, the result is quite impressive. On the 11th of February 2013, a B-roll of the recordings was handed over to the press.
The recordings are currently processed by Design & Data. We produce a film, in which Dr Gernot Grömer, Chair of the ÖWF, gives exciting insights into the fields of work and the challenges of the Mars2013 mission.