In order to test whether humans can survive on Mars, NASA asked them to hike 4000 kilometers in Antarctica

Antarctica is one of the coldest, most empty and most dangerous places on the planet. The land area is approximately 14 million square kilometers, and most of its surface is covered with thick ice. But this icy desert may prove what may happen in the farther world.

▲ A view of Mary Bird's Land in Antarctica from the air. Picture from:NASA

Scientists believe that the extreme conditions and special landscapes of Antarctica are similar to those faced by future astronauts on missions to the moon and Mars, so they recruited two British explorers to observe the adaptability of human beings when they are pushed to the limit. , And finally generate genomic, physiological, psychological and environmental data models for reference in space exploration.

▲ Picture from: Chasing the Light

Both explorers have rich exploration backgrounds and extraordinary pasts.

Justin Packshaw is 57 years old and has been an officer for eight years. He has represented Britain in sailing competitions, traveled to the Arctic and Antarctic and summited Mount Everest many times.

Jamie Facer Childs was born in 1987, rowed across the Indian Ocean in 2007, was also a member of the British team that walked across the Antarctic in 2017, and currently works in the intensive care unit of University College London.

▲ Picture from: Chasing the Light

They will hike 4000 kilometers (2500 miles) in 80 days. This long trek has started three weeks ago. Everyone dragged 200 kilograms of equipment and supplies with sledges, without mechanical assistance, and relied solely on manpower and kites to pull the sledges, fighting the ever-changing wind speed and temperature.

At its worst, the wind speed reached 111 kilometers per hour and the temperature was only minus 56 degrees Celsius.

▲ Picture from: Chasing the Light

In order to stay energetic, they have to consume 8,000 calories a day, which is equivalent to eating 76 bananas a day.

A total of 4000 kilometers journey, from one coast to the other coast, they will pass Antarctica, Hercules Inlet (Hercules Inlet) and Union Glacier (Union Glacier).

▲ Roadmap. Picture from: Chasing the Light

They were going to pass through the "inaccessible pole"-so called because it is the most central and isolated place on this continent, and it is difficult to enter from any direction. But it can be seen from the road map that they decided to turn because of insufficient food reserves.

This expedition is part of the "Chasing the Light" mission. The two explorers are collaborating with NASA and Stanford University. They undergo a series of tests twice a week. Samples of saliva, blood, urine and feces are stored; they also wear smart watches to keep an eye on their lives Signs, stress level, and quality of sleep.

▲ Body test. Picture from: Chasing the Light

NASA is also testing the eyesight of two explorers, studying the relationship between physical stimuli experienced by someone and the sensations they produce. This will help to better understand what happened on the moon in 1971, when astronauts Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell decided to abandon investigating a large crater that appeared to be 1.6 kilometers away, but was actually only about 15 meters away. .

NASA’s Dr. Katherine Rahill said that changes in the depth of the topography of the moon’s surface may confuse astronauts, while the vast white landscape of Antarctica poses similar challenges for explorers.

▲ Picture from: Chasing the Light

At the same time, the impact of extended space travel on astronauts is also being studied, because the extreme environment of Antarctica has similar stressors to the cold depths of space, including isolation, isolation, monotony, lack of privacy, and light-dark cycles. On the International Space Station, astronauts see sunrises and sunsets 16 times every 24 hours on Earth Day.

Earlier this year, there was a similar study on scientists stationed at the Antarctic Remote Research Station. The most significant change in the subjects was that the positive emotions such as satisfaction, enthusiasm, and awe continued to decline from the beginning to the completion of the task; For three weeks, both explorers enjoyed it, "We have been adventurous, and we are enjoying every moment."

▲ Picture from: Chasing the Light

In addition to monitoring their own conditions, they are also commissioned by the European Space Agency (ESA) to collect environmental data, including radiation levels, ice conditions, surface wind speed and direction, and surface temperature gradients. This is not only for future space exploration, but also to ensure that policymakers understand the facts of the climate crisis.

▲ Environmental monitoring. Picture from: Chasing the Light

This is an "old-school" adventure, relying entirely on physical and mental power. Justin Packshaw once said via satellite phone, "It's really impressive to see Mother Nature stretch her power here."

The two explorers hope to complete their journey in early February next year. This journey was sponsored by HP, and NASA, ESA, Stanford University, and University of Central Florida participated in the research. Statistics and progress can be tracked on the official website of Chasing the Light.

▲ Reference materials:
1. Official website:

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