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Uploaded on Feb 8, 2018
Dawn breaks across a red desert landscape.
This futuristic 2.4-ton inflatable habitat protects its inhabitants from the harsh conditions.
But this isn't the Red Planet, it's the Arabian Peninsula.
Scientists are here to test spacesuits, robots and greenhouses.
Two scientists in spacesuits test a geo-radar by dragging the flat box across the rocky sand.
Communication from mission command in the Alps is delayed ten minutes, so when the geo-radar stops working, the two walk back to their all-terrain vehicles and radio colleagues nearby at base camp.
The desolate Dhofar desert in southern Oman, near the borders with Yemen and Saudi Arabia, resembles Mars so much that more than 200 scientists from 25 nations are using it for the next four weeks to field-test technology for a manned mission to Mars.
Public and private ventures are racing towards Mars, with both former President Barack Obama and SpaceX founder Elon Musk declaring humans would walk on the Red Planet in a few decades.
New challengers like China are joining the U.S. and Russia in space with an ambitious, if vague, Mars program. Aerospace corporations like BlueOrigin have published schematics of future bases, ships and suits.
The successful launch of SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on Feb. 6 "puts us in a completely different realm of what we can put into deep space, what we can send to Mars," says analog astronaut Kartik Kumar. Analog astronauts are specially trained to test equipment in simulations.
The next step to Mars, he says, is to tackle non-engineering problems like medical emergency responses and isolation.
"The first person to walk on Mars is in fact already born and might be going to elementary school now in Oman, or back in Europe, in the U.S. or in China," says analog astronaut João Lousada.