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Space Volunteers To 'Walk' On Mars

Crew members are pictured here last June, before starting the 520-day 'mission to Mars.'
After eight months in isolation, a group of six international researchers on a mock mission to Mars are preparing to walk on a simulation of the surface of the planet Mars.

The volunteers -- three Russians, a Frenchman, an Italian, and a Chinese -- were locked into a mock spaceship at a Moscow research center last June.

Today, three are scheduled to plant the national flags of Russia, China and the European Space Agency on a mock-up of Mars.

The aim of the mission -- which will last 520 days -- is to test how humans would respond to the pressures of the long journey to Mars.

compiled from agency reports