A look inside the Mars Simulation project in Utah. (Smithsonian)

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Behind the Scenes With the Mars Simulation Project in Utah

Billionaire Elon Musk donated money to help scientists prepare for the Red Planet.

Elon Musk has donated money to the Mars Society to build an experiment in the Utah desert to help scientists to prepare for the incredibly hostile conditions on the Red Planet. The Mars Desert Research Station was built to allow researchers to simulate living on Mars. It is currently hosting aerospace students from France and Belgium.

In order to go outside, they must wear bulky EVA suits. Living on Mars would be difficult — temperatures are regularly -110 degrees F, there is almost no oxygen and very low atmospheric pressure. Any accidental hole in a space suit could be fatal.

The scientists living at the researcher center for three weeks are conducting experiments as if they were actually on Mars. They are testing a seismometer that would be used to look for water and trying out Martian navigation techniques. Musk hopes to send ordinary citizens to Mars in the future.

Read the full story at Smithsonian Magazine