In Oman desert, European venture sets sights on Mars

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It may look like a scene from a science fiction movie. But these astronauts clad in pressure-simulating suits have their feet firmly on earth… in Oman's barren desert, more specifically.

They're taking part in simulation training, aiming to one-day help humans survive on Mars.

Alexander Soucek, president of the Austrian Space Forum and AMADEE-18 flight director on earth, said "We need a place that looks as much as Mars as possible. And we found it here in Oman, it's a beautiful place but it's most of all a scientifically useful place and operationally useful place."

Run by the Austrian Space Forum with backing from the Omani government, the AMADEE-18 Mars Analog Mission brings together researchers, inventors, space professionals and enthusiasts…

All with their sights set on the red planet.

In early February, US billionaire Elon Musk launched the world's most powerful rocket towards an orbit near Mars.

In this remote corner of the Arabian Peninsula, the European-led project is far less flashy -- but still looks to answer major questions.

Alexander added "Once we will go to Mars and we will stay on Mars, we will have to use the resources we find on Mars because we cannot bring everything from earth. That is called NC2 resource utilization, so we have to use the things we find there, first of all to sustain life there, to sustain missions there and then in the longer run maybe also for other things."

Everything is custom-built to resemble the constricted movement astronauts would feel on Mars.

Along with the training, the team have reflected on other issues stemming from space exploration.

Since 2015, the US and Luxembourg have been creating legal frameworks that could eventually allow mining in space.

The EU has yet to take a position on the controversial topic.

Joao Lousada, test astronaut and volunteer researcher said "Mining comes into a bit of a legal loophole where it’s not clear for all organisations whether it is legally feasible or not, but independent of that, I think it’s a very interesting idea. I think definitely we should look into using resources that we can maybe gather from asteroids that are not available on earth or not as frequent on earth."

Meanwhile these volunteer researchers are set to explore the Omani desert. Looking to set foot on the coveted red planet, and turn science fiction into reality.

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