Scientists from 25 nations simulate Mars in Omani desert
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Scientists from 25 nations simulate Mars in Omani desert

More than 200 experts spending four weeks in Mars-like terrain testing technology for manned mission to red planet

  • Two scientists in the Dhofar desert of southern Oman test space suits and a geo-radar for use in a future Mars mission, February 7, 2018.  (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    Two scientists in the Dhofar desert of southern Oman test space suits and a geo-radar for use in a future Mars mission, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
  • João Lousada, a flight controller for the International Space Station, wears an experimental space suit during a simulation of a future Mars mission in the Dhofar desert of southern Oman, February 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    João Lousada, a flight controller for the International Space Station, wears an experimental space suit during a simulation of a future Mars mission in the Dhofar desert of southern Oman, February 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
  • Two scientists test space suits and a geo-radar for use in a future Mars mission, Dhofar desert, southern Oman, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    Two scientists test space suits and a geo-radar for use in a future Mars mission, Dhofar desert, southern Oman, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
  • A 2.4-ton inflated habitat used by the AMADEE-18 Mars simulation in the Dhofar desert of southern Oman, pictured on February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    A 2.4-ton inflated habitat used by the AMADEE-18 Mars simulation in the Dhofar desert of southern Oman, pictured on February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
  • Analog astronaut Kartik Kumar wears an experimental space suit during a simulation of a future Mars mission, Dhofar desert, southern Oman, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    Analog astronaut Kartik Kumar wears an experimental space suit during a simulation of a future Mars mission, Dhofar desert, southern Oman, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
  • Analog astronaut João Lousada, center, hands his colleague Kartik Kumar a drone while two Omani men watch in front of the Mars simulation base camp in the Dhofar desert of Oman, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)
    Analog astronaut João Lousada, center, hands his colleague Kartik Kumar a drone while two Omani men watch in front of the Mars simulation base camp in the Dhofar desert of Oman, February 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Sam McNeil)

DHOFAR DESERT, Oman (AP) — The desolate desert in southern Oman, near the borders of Yemen and Saudi Arabia, resembles Mars so much that more than 200 scientists from 25 nations have chosen it as their location for the next four weeks to field-test technology for a manned mission to Mars.

Analog astronaut Kartik Kumar says the successful launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket this week “puts us in a completely different realm of what we can put into deep space, what we can send to Mars.”

Seen from space, the Dhofar Desert is a flat, brown expanse. Few animals or plants survive its temperatures that can top 125 degrees Fahrenheit, or 51 degrees Celsius.

The Oman Mars Base is a giant 2.4-ton inflated habitat surrounded by shipping containers turned into labs and crew quarters.

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