Scientists are using the Concordia research station in Antarctica to research the effects of long space missions. In winter, no sunlight is seen for four months and the typical crew of 12 live in complete isolation.
The next goal for space exploration is for humans to travel to Mars. Antarctica provides a good analogue to research some of the physical and psychological challenges of during long-duration spaceflight.
Living in this white space is, in many ways, similar to living on another planet. The isolation and low oxygen are aspects of life astronauts will have to endure to explore our Solar System.
Crews live for up to one year at the research station where cramped living conditions resemble those experienced in spaceflight.
Flights bring crews and supplies to the station except for four months of the year -- during winter -- when crews are left to fend for themselves, with no daylight.
The environment in Antarctica lacks sounds, smells, or sights to keep the mind stimulated. The monotony of everyday life can affect the mental health of crew members, similar to spaceflight.
The laboratory at the Concordia is where European Space Agency sponsored medical research doctors, like Alex Kumar, pictured, spend their winter studying the long-term effects of isolation.