The very real six-man crew from the very real European Space Agency finally ended their very fake mission to Mars this afternoon. They've spent the past 18 months—520 days!—locked inside a fake space shuttle outside of Moscow as a simulation.
Do you know how long 18 months ago was? Do you know how different the world was!? The iPhone 18 months ago looked... like the one they just released. Huh. Guess the people who signed away 520 days of their life for a make believe mission didn't miss much.
It must've been hell though, spending time with the same 5 people for a year and a half. It actually also sounds a lot like college. Either way, I'm sure their brains are wrecked—they stayed in a sealed, windowless complex where their only form of contact with the outside world was "over the internet and by phone lines that carried a delay of up to 20 minutes to simulate the time it takes for radio signals to pass". They could only shower once a week. They ate canned food. All in an attempt to prove that humans can last 520 days on a "mission". But now they're home! Woot.
What's worse is that when these fake astronauts open the capsule up to meet with their loved ones, they'll have to stay in isolation for 4 days to avoid sickness. So much fakeness, I don't know what's real anymore. [ESA, Guardian]