Russians Aim to Send Monkey to Mars

Robot would look after primate during 520-day round trip
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2009 4:16 AM CST
A rhesus monkey returns to earth after a NASA experiment in 1955.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – The first Earthling to reach Mars may be a Russian monkey, according to scientists at an ex-Soviet facility. The director of an institute that supplied monkeys to the Soviet space program in the '80s says the facility is in talks with Russia's Cosmonautics Academy over supplying animals for a simulated Mars mission. A real mission could follow with a robot on board to look after the monkey, he says.

The robot would feed and clean up after the monkey during the 520-day round trip. "Technicians have told us that it's not difficult to build such a robot," the institute's director tells AFP. "The hard part is teaching the monkey to live with the robot."

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