The Russians are sending monkeys to Mars.
It seems now that the Russians are beating the USA ahead of not just the arms race but also the space race as well as reports emerge that experts from the Russian Academy of Science are training four rhesus macaques to travel to Mars, The Daily Mail says.
The monkey space program was started out in the 1980s by the Institute of Biomedical Problems. The team is led by Inessa Kozlovskaya, who trains the monkeys.
The ambitious project involves training the exotic mammals with a joystick and solving puzzles. The activities are meant to enable them to man a mission within the next two years, though it is unclear whether the mission will have them return.
Each activity involves having a primate control a joystick and hit a target that is highlighted by a cursor - very much like a primitive computer game from ANC's Halt and Catch Fire. The successful action is rewarded with a sip of juice to enforce the monkeys' reflexes.
After mastery, the next step is mastering simple math tasks and puzzles. In the end, the team hopes the primates will eventually perform a daily schedule of tasks independently by 2017.
Dr Kozlovskaya says, "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." But beyond that, the ambitious goal is in fact have the primates train others as well.
The Tech Times reports that not everyone is thrilled with the news. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stated that space missions are already difficult for humans, which makes it even more so for the animals. "They're being strapped down into these capsules. It's terrifying for them," said Justin Goodman, director of lab investigations at PETA. "They don't understand what's going on."
To prove their point, PETA recalls the history of animals in space missions. The US and Russia have long been utilizing animals to see how long a living organism survive outside the Earth and return.
Some of the first monkeys in this experiment were Albert I, II, III and IV, monkeys who boarded a V-2 Blossom starting in June 1948. All died on impact. In 1951, the monkey Yorick became the first monkey to survive a space flight.