The highest professional level, resistance to stress and an inborn high radiation protection will be the main criteria to choose candidates for the Mars expedition, director of the Russian Medical and Biological Problems Institute academician Anatoly Grigoryev told RIA Novosti. He is one of the leaders of the project preparing the piloted expedition to the Mars.
"Alongside high requirements to professional skills, physical and psychological health, significant attention will be paid to choosing people with a maximum ability to adjust to extreme pressure and high resistance to stress," he pointed out.
Moreover, "it is very important to find candidates who have a higher immunity protection against ionizing radiation, as the crew will be under its influence during both the flight and the work on the Mars surface," the academician explained.
When speaking about the number of members of the Mars expedition, Grigoryev pointed out that "it seems expedient that the crew should comprise six men, three of whom will land on the surface of the Mars." The expedition is expected to comprise two pilots, a flight engineer, a doctor and two engineers.
"All crew members will have to undergo a cross-training so that they can substitute each other if necessary," the scientist added.
He believes that the independence of the expedition will increase tension on board the space craft and will significantly raise the responsibility level of each crew member.
"They will have to undertake most of the functions of ground services usual for near-earth orbital expeditions," Grigoryev explained.
When landing on the Mars and returning back to the Earth it is vital to rule out a possibility of infecting the two planets, he emphasized.
"Life on the Mars is unlikely, but possible in principle, it can be represented by organisms that live in extreme conditions on this planet, so it is necessary to take precautions not to infect the Mars with terrestrial microorganisms and vice versa," the academician believes.
At present the Institute is already choosing candidates for an experiment in the ground compression chamber. During a 500-day isolated "flight" several volunteers will feel the "pleasure" of the forthcoming expedition. The experiment will start already in the middle of 2005. The six-member crew has been almost chosen. Each of them will have to sign a contract that spells all possible risks. Any participant may leave "the board" at any moment of his own accord.
The Americans came to realise that they would have to either leave the region or weaken their presence there. It is Russia that is filling the vacuum now