Soyuz TMA-07M Commander and ISS Expedition 34/35 Flight Engineer Roman Romanenko hasn't been slacking off since his Soyuz landing last Tuesday. According to Roscosmos, the Russian Space Agency, he has just simulated a landing on Mars and a spacewalk under simulated Martian conditions. Only four days after his return to Earth. Tough guy.

Roman Romanenko returned to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, where he was strapped into a centrifuge to complete a simulated landing on Mars. The objective of these tests is to examine whether humans are capable of completing such a complex task after spending extended periods of time in zero-gravity which is a requirement for manned missions to Mars as a quick transit to Mars is about half a year in duration. Romanenko completed a manual descent using a hand controller to fly the simulated Mars Lander.

After that, he simulated a spacewalk wearing an Orlan DMA spacesuit that was suspended on lifting slings to simulate the crew member's weight on the Martian surface and the planet's reduced gravity of 0.38 Earth Gs. He opened and closed a simulated spacecraft hatch, climbed out of the hatch and moved around in the suit. Romanenko also transferred simulated experiment equipment, handled tools to set up experiments or make repairs, and moved up and down the ladder of the simulated lander.

Romanenko demonstrated that he was physically able to complete a range of basic spacewalking tasks that would be required on Mars, Roscosmos reports:

Just after his Soyuz landing last Tuesday, Roman Romanenko appeared to be in very good physical condition - giving the impression that he was dealing much better with his return to gravity than his fellow crew members, Chris Hadfield and Tom Marshburn. To prevent extensive muscle loss during their long mission, crew members are exercising 2.5 hours in order to maintain muscle mass and physical fitness for their return to gravity as degradation of the cardiovascular system is a big challenge as well. Usually, a daily exercise session aboard ISS consists of one block of cardiovascular exercise and another block of muscle-loading/conditioning for a total of 2.5 hours. A number of exercise methods and other techniques are being evaluated on ISS to further improve countermeasures in preparation for even longer mission durations which will be required for longer journeys in the future taking crews to Mars or Asteroids.

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These post-flight activities were first conducted after the Soyuz TMA-06M flight earlier this year and examine a crew member's ability to complete complex tasks such as landing on Mars or performing an EVA after being exposed to the space environment, taking into account physiological as well as psychological factors. Simulating a landing sequence with crew members just returning from space offers unique insights into the physiological and psychological elements that factor into a successful interplanetary landing after a long flight to the destination.

Source: Roscosmos Facebook, photos: Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center