Six Israeli scientists have returned from Mars - or at least the next best thing.
The team of researchers have spent the last four days in a simulated Martian habitat near the remote Israeli township of Mitzpe Ramon – where the arid conditions of the Negev desert offer a good approximation to the unwelcoming surface of the Red Planet.
As well as gathering important information about hardship, isolation and the search for microscopic life, the mission sought to reignite excitement in the popular imagination about a future Mars mission.
One of the team, Hebrew University physics professor Guy Ron, told Reuters: “D-Mars is half about the research, and the other half is about the outreach.
“A major part of this project is getting public interest and getting students interested in space.”
"Mitzpe Ramon is a unique environment in that it's a very good analogue for Mars, both in terms of the terrain, the aridity, the distance, the solitude, it's very similar to Mars and that's of course the good thing," he said.