Europe launched its first shot at a manned mission to the Red Planet today—by locking six scientists in a tiny capsule in Moscow for 105 days to simulate the voyage, the BBC reports. The volunteers, who can leave the experiment but score $20000 if they make it, will perform similar maintenance tasks and experience the same isolation and claustrophobia as real astronauts. “It is really like a real space flight without the weightlessness and the danger to our lives,” said Sergei Ryazansky, one of the would-be astronauts.
“On the inside, we will have a lack of incoming information, so it’s the science of sensory deprivation,” Ryazansky said. That includes a 20-minute delay for any communications with command to simulate the time needed for voice to travel to Earth and back. This experiment is a test run, with, a more serious 520-day simulation planned for next year.