Analog astronauts during an extravehicular activity in the Negev Desert; the Mars habitat. Source: AMADEE-20/ Florian Voggeneder

Uni Bremen involved in AMADEE-20 Mars Simulation

AMADEE-20: That is the name of the simulated Mars mission of the Austrian Space Forum, which was carried out in the Israeli Negev Desert. More than 25 experiments were carried out there. Two projects from the University of Bremen, namely INTERTEAM and MarsLock, were also involved in the research.

What are team processes like when the crew is on Mars?

The INTERTEAM project addresses exactly this question. It is a cooperation at the University of Bremen between the Chair of Business Psychology and Human Resources, which is led by Professor Vera Hagemann, and the Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM), represented by Dr.-Ing. Christiane Heinicke. Within the AMADEE-20 mission, the project recorded the team processes, the solidarity, and performance of the teams involved in the Mars simulation.

This included the Mars crew with six analog astronauts in the Negev Desert habitat. They are specially trained space suit testers who have completed basic training over several months and are deployed for technical tests and Mars simulations. Additional teams included the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck, which functions as a control center on Earth, as well as the on-site support team in Israel. The latter creates structures necessary for the Mars mission but does not have any direct contact to the analog astronauts.

Two Experiment Areas in INTERTEAM

“INTERTEAM is split into two experiment areas,” explains Vera Hagemann when speaking about the structure. The first experiment investigated the processes and constructs within the individual teams. “The six astronauts, as well as six participants from the Mission Support Center and on-site support team had to solve seven rounds of team tasks throughout the mission. These included planning an event where each team member had a task package - spanning from catering and decoration to the choice of music.” It was interesting to see how agreements were made and decision processes took place within the teams.

The second INTERTEAM experiment focused on the processes between the three teams and was carried out in three rounds. Together, two analog astronauts and two members of both the Mission Support Center and on-site support team solved different team tasks in each round. “The astronauts and the on-site support team shared their answers with the Mission Support Center, which then passed said information and its own answers on to the other team. The answers from all teams were needed in order to solve the next team task,” states Christiane Heinicke from ZARM. The communication between the teams took the lag between Earth and Mars into consideration.

“Interesting and Informative Experience”

Lara Watermann, a staff member within the Chair of Business Psychology and Human Resources, accompanied the initial round of the first INTERTEAM experiment at the Mission Support Center in Innsbruck. “It was a truly interesting and informative experience to not only encounter the so-called ‘bridgehead phase’, thus the active preparation phase for the mission in the Mission Support Center, firsthand, but also to gain insights into the other diverse international research projects.” It is expected that the first INTERTEAM findings will be available in February 2022 and will be included in publications and other research on the topic of “team performance in extreme surroundings.”

MarsLock Project: How Functional Airlocks Need to Be Designed

Whilst INTERTEAM is mainly led by Vera Hagemann, Christiane Heinicke is primarily responsible for the MarsLock project. Within MarsLock, recommendations for future airlocks are to be created based on the current movement patterns of the analog astronauts. Airlocks are one of the most important components of a Mars habitat: They make it possible for the crew to go into and leave the habitat in order to investigate their surroundings.

Such airlocks are pressurized and when an astronaut returns, they decontaminate the space suits that are worn during extravehicular activities (EVA). “We observed the preparations of EVAs during AMADEE-20. The results should help us to create designs for future airlocks. Good airlocks must be functional from both a technological viewpoint and from the perspective of the user,” explains project leader Christiane Heinicke.

AMADEE-20 Mars Simulation

The analog astronauts lived and worked in a habitat that was developed for the mission between October 11 and 31, 2021. When carrying out activities outside of the habitat, they wore a space suit prototype, which was developed and manufactured by the Austrian Space Forum (OeWF). The crew, which was made up of one German woman and five men from Austria, Israel, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands, carried out research for future astronaut missions on Mars. During the mission, the signal traveling time simulated the lag between Earth and Mars. The analog Mars mission AMADEE-20 was carried out by OeWF, together with Israel Space Agency and D-MARS, the operator of the Mars habitat, in the Negev Desert, Israel. More than 200 researchers from 25 countries were involved in this international mission under Austrian leadership.

Further Information:




Prof. Dr. Vera Hagemann
Head of the Chair of Business Psychology and Human Resources
Faculty of Business Studies & Economics
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-66750
Email: vhagemannuni-bremen.de

- MarsLock Project

Jasmin Plättner
Center of Applied Space Technology and Microgravity (ZARM)
University of Bremen
Email: jasmin.plättnerzarm.uni-bremen.de
Phone: +49 421 218-57794