BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Reality TV meets space exploration in a new series premiering on Fox Network Monday night. The show is called Stars on Mars, and the premise will test celebrities’ strength in a space-like environment.
In Central Florida, local researchers are on the cutting edge of real-life space research with the goal to land humans back on the moon and Mars, in the future. Local experts are weighing in on what the celebs are in for and say it won’t be easy.
"You can’t go outside. You can’t take your helmet off and go outdoors. You can go off in a suit, but that’s not the same, right," said Andrew Palmer, an associate professor of biological science at Florida Tech who researches food production in space.
Not being able to go outside is just one of the stressors in space Dr. Palmer knows from his experiments.
"When you get to a place like Mars or the moon, the dirt there is not the same as the dirt here, so the salt concentrations are different," he added. "The metal concentrations are different, and so we have to change our game plan a little bit."
The physical challenge is one thing, but the experience also puts one's mental state to the test. Another space expert working on the space coast at the International Space Station National Laboratory hasn’t been to space but lived in conditions mimicking the harsh environment for over a month.
"The mental part was really difficult because it doesn’t take long for you to start missing things that you’re used to and wanting things that you’re used to," said Mounir Alafrangy.
Alafrangy spent 45 days in a space simulator at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He says, his mental endurance was tested daily.
"You really do learn a lot about yourself. You push yourself, and the only person that can get you out of a conflict is you and your teammates," Alafrangy added.
While the new show is meant to entertain, these space experts say it also shows how interested people are in deep space exploration.
"The fact that they’re going to do something with a reality competition about it. That means that it’s in people’s minds," said Palmer."If we want to be a multi-planetary species, we need to do these analogs. We need to do simulations," said Alafrangy.
Through simulations and shows, the goal is for humans to step foot on new planets in the future.