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NASA tracks down two explorers across Antarctica; prepares humans for Mars

Learning about Human Survival

NASA is guiding two explorers across Antarctica for a 2,268-mile (3,650-kilometer) expedition to study more about humanity’s potential to live and survive on Mars.

Justin Packshaw and Jamie Facer Childs of the United Kingdom are on day 32 of an 80-day journey across the world’s southernmost continent. The Chasing the Light mission’s long journey could aid space organizations in better understanding the psychological and physical effects of other worlds on the human body and mind.

Cold temperatures and katabatic winds gusting up to 200 miles per hour are causing problems for the soldiers (320 kilometers per hour). They are the first to cross the continent, traversing a distance of 1,342 miles (2,159 kilometers) between Novolazarevskaya and the geographic South Pole. They also go on to Union Glacier Camp, which is 926 miles (1,490 kilometers) away from Hercules Inlet.

According to records, Antarctica provides a suitable setting for a wide range of human and biological research, akin to the extreme conditions found on planets in our solar system.” Scientists will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch a rare scientific story of human adaptability through Justin and Jamie’s adventure, which will help pave the path for human-centered space exploration.”

NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Stanford University collect data from wearable smart gadgets as the guys walk and ski their way south. The men are making the journey without any mechanical assistance, relying instead on kites to propel them ahead. They’re also trailed by two 440-pound (200-kg) sleds. Not only do they bring their meals and equipment, but they also transport blood, saliva, urine, and excrement samples collected along the road.

NASA examines the explorer’s capabilities

NASA is also testing the explorers’ ability to assess distance visually, which can be inaccurate when humans are placed in an unfamiliar area. A well-known example is the Apollo 14 mission in 1971. While walking over the moon collecting geological samples, astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell set their sights on investigating a remote crater. I decided to turn around after calculating that it was more than a mile away. They were only 50 feet (15.24 meters) from the edge of the crater.

The soldiers have also been tasked with obtaining critical environmental data such as ice levels, radiation levels, and wind speed. Because satellites do not hover directly above the South Pole, the measurements gathered by the two will fill in a “satellite data gap” and potentially provide critical insights into climate change, according to the Chasing the Light initiative.

The pair’s travel was originally longer, with an extra leg transporting them to the continent’s most difficult spot, the Antarctic’s “Pole of Inaccessibility.” Because the explorers were unable to progress on critical days due to wind and snow, the path had to be shortened.

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