We may not have made it to Mars yet, but that doesn't discourage "Martian explorers" who will camp out for the next two weeks in the desert near Hanksville, Utah.
A four-person crew will man Utah's Mars Desert Research Station to test equipment, like a 3-D medical device printer, according to ABC News.
Dr. Julielynn Y. Wong, a preventive medicine physician and director of the Center for Innovative Technologies and Public Health, is head of the 145th simulation.
"Astronauts are at high risk for hand injuries," Wong told ABC News. "We want to see what happens if they hurt themselves on a space walk and need to get back to the habitat with a limited air supply."
The 3-D printer prints out custom finger splints, which Wong says are critical in the treatment of hand injuries. Astronauts living for extended periods of time face weak bones, shrunken muscles, heart strain, inner ear and balance issues, so Wong and her team are trying to come up with ways to help the astronauts stay in top condition while in space.
The crew in Utah will live just as astronauts would (aside from the gravity difference). Yoga is being tested as a way to deal with tight quarters and stressful situations. A limited diet of rice, nuts, dried fruit, cereal and candy will be in place for the Utah crew. Some fresh vegetables are being grown, but Martian astronauts' green thumb will be limited by conditions on the red planet.
If you'd like to take part in a chat with the Earth-tied "astronauts," use the hashtags #challengerosc and #sciencenow on Twitter. There will be a one hour session on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and again at 12:45 p.m. (EST).