While it’s anybody’s guess when it will actually happen, many agree that the next big stepping stone in human space exploration will be landing a human crew on Mars. Despite the many hurdles to be surmounted, there are plenty here on Mother Earth who are studying and planning for that eventual day when we step foot on the red planet. Reuters reports (via Stuff) that Austrian scientists earlier this week used an icy Alpine cave as a Mars stand-in to test equipment that could someday be crucial in any manned mission to our red-hued neighbor.
Eleven nations participated in the field test in the caves near Salzburg. Project leader Gernot Groemer of the Austrian Space Forum said that the caves were chosen because their temperature and protection from cosmic rays could make them a perfect home for microbes similar to the ones scientists speculate could someday be found on Mars. The testing included new space suit tech, as well as 3D camera systems, rovers, sterile testing systems, and more.