If you suffer with cabin fever when you don’t leave the house for a day, then you’ll sympathise with a group Chinese students who have been locked in a bunker for 200 days to simulate living on an ‘alien planet’.
The eight postgraduate students from the University of Beijing have volunteered to be guinea pigs in a simulation that could be an important step in turning the country into a global space superpower.
The isolation-experiment, called ‘Lunar Palace 365’ requires the participants - split into two separate bunkers of four who take turns in the cabin - to live solely on resources they would have on the Moon or Mars.
Meaning they will be recycling everything, generating live-giving oxygen from a collection of plants and turning their urine into drinking water.
Professor Liu Hong, the architect behind the project, told Reuters: “We’ve designed it so the oxygen is exactly enough to satisfy the humans, the animals, and the organisms that break down the waste materials.”
The 365-day experiment is aimed at testing the reliability of the Bioregenerative Life Support System (BLSS) when it works in a moon-environment with crews of different metabolic rates.
And although there are certainly physical challenges, there are also concerns of being cut off from family and friends for almost a year, and keeping the participants motivated, so they will be required to do daily tasks.
One of the participants, PhD student Liu Guanghui, said: “I’ll get so much out of this...it’s truly a different life experience.”
They have conducted this experiment before with animals, and a similar human test of bioregenerative life support technology took place in May 2014, but only for 105 days and with fewer people involved.
In the past China has sent eleven nationals into space, and aims to send the world’s first probe to the dark side of the moon by 2018. As well as to land astronauts there again by 2036.