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EMMPOL-7 EuroMoonMarsPoland ~ Rowan Brown

In June 2021, BioSoc’s volunteer Rowan Brown attended a talk hosted by @warwickareospace and BioSoc where Professor Baatout, Head of the Radiobiology unit at SCK-CEN spoke about Radiation Risk and Human Space Exploration. Rowan’s review of this event can be found here

Rowan went a step further and secured a career interview with the professor. What followed was quite an adventure, with Rowan traveling to Poland to join the EMMPOL-7 mission, spending 7 days in isolation in a lunar habitat simulation as Outreach and Communication Officer. We asked Rowan to tell us a little more about her amazing experience.

As a Biomedical Science student, the last place that I saw myself was the aerospace industry (especially given my aversion to physics and maths!). However, over the course of the last few months, preparing for this mission has taught me that there is space for everyone in this industry! (Pun intended)

The mission in question was entitled EMMPOL, where I would be joining their 7th Crew. EMMPOL stands for EuroMoonMars Poland, a joint venture between EuroMoonMars and the Analog Astronaut Training Centre. EMMPOL focuses on training the next generation of astronauts and aerospace professionals, through lunar habitat simulations in complete isolation - It is definitely not a feat for the faint-hearted or anyone with an aversion to confined spaces.

One of the most rewarding aspects of the experience was the international scale of it, attracting students from all over Europe, of varying degrees and levels. During the mission, I enjoyed the company of students from Italy, France and Belgium of varying degree backgrounds, including Biomedical Scientists, Aerospace Engineers, and Industrial Bioengineers – talk about a diverse bunch!

From Day 1 of signing on to the mission, there was a significant amount of preparatory work to be done, ranging from designing experiment protocols to training for other experiments that we would be running on behalf of other students external to the mission.

Despite its interesting location in Krakow, Poland, this mission was by no means a holiday or a chance at relaxation. Almost immediately upon arrival, we were set to work – launching rockets made by crew members followed by sprinting across sand in the dunes to test our initial fitness levels (who would have thought there’d be a desert in the middle of Poland!). After a polish-style meal and our last night of proper sleep, D-Day arrived and it was time to enter the habitat where we’d be enjoying only each other’s company for the next 7 days.

During the week, we each had our unique experiments to be collecting data for, including collaborative efforts. My experiment focused primarily on how the bacteria in our mouth changes over a period of isolation, during exposure to altered circadian rhythms and psychological stress. Other experiments included hydroponics, designing the payload of a 3D Lunar Launcher and examining life support systems using Kombucha (fermented tea created using symbiotic colonies of bacteria & fungi) and Algae.

Each mission has a unique purpose, designed to research different mission aspects. Ours was to test different crew compositions and which combination is the best for a mission – Friends, Lovers, or (Almost) total strangers?. This was tested through a series of challenges tested our teamwork alongside multiple surveys to determine how each term perceived each other, both within each team and the crew as a whole.

Without a doubt, the mission pushed each of us to our limits on a physical and mental level. None of the crew had met prior to the start of the mission yet we would be living together in the same confined quarters with no escape for the next week, thus it was essential to communicate on a common level and get along without interference of emotions. Couple this with the high work-load prescribed to each crew member and it was an intense psychological test. Thankfully, we made it to the end with friendships and relationships intact!

Following the mission, I had the opportunity to spend a further week in Poland as Mission Control for the 8th Crew. During this time, several cultural opportunities presented themselves - including the chance to visit Auschwitz. This was a truly humbling experience but a vital reminder that in order to look to the skies and the future for humanities next venture, we must never forget the history that forms our past.

Overall, it was a fortnight filled with truly valuable lessons ranging from international collaboration to problem-solving on the fly. Regardless of what path I choose to pursue, it has opened my eyes to opportunities I never thought possible and demonstrated the strength of international collaboration. Perhaps the most valuable message was that in our quest of further space exploration, we stand on the shoulders of giants, for which humanity will be forever grateful.

Pictured left to right, top to bottom: Antonio Riccardi (University of Padova, Italy); Damien Martin Gomes (IPSA, France); Rowan Brown (University of Warwick, UK); Giulia Visonà (University of Padova, Italy); Pauline Sol (IPSA, France); Micheline Ngue (Free University Brussels, Belgium).

With thanks to: Professor Bernard Foing (EuroMoonMars; ILEWG), Dr Agata Kołodziejczyk (Analog Astronaut Training Centre), Professor Kevin Purdy (University of Warwick), Dr Sarah Baatout (SCK CEN), Dr Bjorn Baselet (SCK CEN). Without them, this would not have been possible.

For more information check out their Instagram account at Rowan can be contacted at

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