Russia Is Training Four Monkeys To Go To Mars In 2017

There is a long history of animals taking part in space missions.  Even before humans made it to space, animals have been used in order to test how long a living organism can go outside Earth and return safely.  In 1951 a monkey named Yorick was the first monkey to live through a space flight.  Russians are aiming to be the first to send animals to Mars.

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A team of experts at the Russian Academy of Science are planning on sending a group of monkeys on a mission to Mars by 2017.  They are training four rhesus macaques to travel to the red planet but it is yet unclear whether they will also bring them back.  This training, which includes using a joystick and solving puzzles, should make them capable to man a mission with the next two years.  All four monkeys were selected based on their cognitive thinking skills and fast learning abilities.  “What we are trying to do is make them as intelligent as possible so we can use them to explore space beyond our orbit,” said Inessa Kozlovskaya, the leader of the team responsible for teaching the monkeys.  The goal of the program isn’t just to train the monkeys to complete various tasks, but also to ensure that they can remember how to perform those tasks.

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Pic shows: Monkey with scientifics. The Russians are up to some monkey business in space, after it was revealed they are planning to have a team of macaques capable of going to Mars in two years. Scientists from the Institute of Biomedical Problems, which is part of the Russian Academy Of Science, say they are preparing four rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) to train them to be able to make the flight. The animals are being trained three hours a day so they can travel safely into outer space, and eventually land on Mars. The special group of rhesus macaques were chosen for their cognitive abilities and their quick-learning skills. For scientific projects these type of monkeys are hand-reared in special farms, where the cleverest ones get selected to work at the Institute of Biomedical Problems. Inessa Kozlovskaya, one of the leading experts from the institute, believes that sending a monkey to Mars is a viable option. She said: "What we are trying to do is to make them as intelligent as possible so we can use them to explore space beyond our orbit." The smartest representative of the four macaquesí is called Clyopa who is seen on this extraordinary training video. Every day the cute little creature spends hours learning how to control a joystick and hit a target, which is highlighted by a cursor. Natalia Miller, one of the specialists working with the monkey, says that Clyopa gets a sip of a juice as a treat for fulfilling tasks properly. The next step the Russian scientists plan to accomplish is teaching the macaques how to solve simple mathematical tasks and puzzles. At the end of their training, the smart creatures should be able to complete their daily schedule of tasks on their own. Inessa Kozlovskaya, who has been working on the program since the 1980s, said that the main goal is to teach monkeys to perform a particular range of tasks which they will be able to remember. The team are also hoping that the space monkeys will be able to train others and integrate them into the team, and hopefully their descendants will also benefit from having intelligent parents. Macaques typically have a lifespan of around 25 years, so it is hoped there is enough time to train them properly and for them to survive the six-month trip to Mars. (ends)

At the end of the training, the moneys would be able to complete a set of tasks without any supervision or help.  The team is also hoping that the space monkeys will be able to train other monkeys and integrate them into the program.  Even though animals have been successfully sent to space, survival rates of these animals remain relatively low.  The way animals are trained and handled for space missions bothers animal activist groups a great deal.

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