President Isaac Herzog: “You are making history. If there is something that unites humanity, it’s the future life of the universe and the life of the human species.”
Today, President Isaac Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog welcomed to the President’s Residence analog astronauts of the AMADEE-20 Mars Simulation, who have just emerged from an intensive three-week mission in the Ramon Crater in the Negev Desert, simulating a human mission on the surface of the Red Planet.
Joining the two Israeli analog astronauts from the simulation were Israel Space Agency director Uri Oron; Austrian Space Forum director Dr. Gernot Grömer; Austrian Ambassador Hannah Liko; D-MARS CEO Dr. Hillel Rubinstein; and children studying with the Tevel satellite-building program and AMADEE-20.
The event began with an expo of cutting-edge space technologies. The analog astronauts from the AMADEE-20 Mars Simulation showed President Isaac Herzog the spacesuits that they used in the desert simulation.
Afterwards, the President was given demonstrations of other advanced Israeli-made space technologies, supported by the Israel Space Agency, including: StemRad’s anti-solar radiation spacesuits, which are set to join NASA’s Artemis moon mission; nano-satellite capable of performing pharmaceutical experiments in orbit developed by SpacePharma; an advanced nanosatellite with deployable antennae to provide ultra-high data rates from space, developed by NSL Comm; and technology developed by Israeli company Helios to create oxygen from moondust and manufacture steel cheaply without CO2 emissions.
After asking the analog astronauts questions about life in the Mars simulation habitat, President Isaac Herzog concluded: “You are making history. If there is something that unites humanity, it’s the future life of the universe and the life of the human species. It is fascinating in all aspects.”
Analog astronauts Alon Tenzer and Liad Yosef told President Isaac Herzog about the challenging mission, in which the analog astronauts lived in isolation for three weeks in an airlocked habitat simulating life on Mars and wore spacesuits whenever they stepped outside for experiments.
“We felt as if we were on Mars, and on many occasions the mission has such an immersive effect that you can really believe it for a few moments, but for the rest of the time you really live it. This simulation goes way beyond something make-believe,” said Alon.
Dr. Hillel Rubinstein, CEO of D-MARS (Desert Mars Analog Ramon Station): “AMADEE-20 is just one example of how far we can get to promote space exploration in Israel, for the dreams of the children in Israel.”
Uri Oron, director-general of the Israel Space Agency in the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology: “The Israel Space Agency will continue to work to expand the space ecosystem in Israel, to promote international collaboration, and to strengthen Israel’s world status as a space power.”
Dr. Gernot Grömer, director-general of the Austrian Space Forum: “We firmly believe that the very first human to walk on Mars has already been born and the first human mission to Mars will take place in the next twenty-thirty years.” He described the AMADEE-20 simulation in the Ramon Crater and said: “This was the most modern, most complex Mars simulation in the world.”
Dr. Reut Sorek Abramovitch, astrobiology expert, explained the experiments performed in the AMADEE-20 habitat, exploring the potential for microbial contamination and studying the astronauts’ mental and physical health.
Sapir Yosef, 12, from Rosh Ha’Ayin described her experiences taking part in an AMADEE-20 educational challenge about Mars: “My love for space started at elementary school, where I was first introduced to space studies. Last year, I was a captain on my school team and we won first place in the Israeli Space Olympics.” She concluded: “All a child needs is an adult to believe in them.”
Finally, the Austrian Space Forum surprised President Isaac Herzog with a special gift, traditionally awarded to the host country of its international Mars simulation missions: a Tiuterra crystal, crafted by Swarovski from rock samples from across the world and fragments of a meteorite from Mars. The President and the First Lady were deeply moved to receive this extraordinary gift.
The AMADEE-20 Mars Simulation was run by the Israel Space Agency and the Austrian Space Forum in collaboration with D-MARS. Six analog astronauts from six different countries inhabited a purpose-built “space station” in the Ramon Crater, selected because of its similarity to the surface of Mars, for three weeks, where they performed a series of pioneering scientific and technological experiments, mirroring tasks planned for future human missions to Mars.
Photos: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO. Footage available from the GPO’s FTP server. Video: Avi Kanner/GPO. Sound: Uri Buzaglo/GPO.
Further details: Eylon Levy, International Media Advisor to the President of the State of Israel (firstname.lastname@example.org).