What is an Analogue?

Analogue - Noun

"A person or thing seen as comparable to another."

An analogue space mission, or ‘analogue’, is a situation, environment or event on Earth that replicates the conditions of outer-space, or another celestial body. These can be used to test the performance of new technologies destined for other planets, or put the human body through similar effects as living and working off-world, helping us learn, practice and prepare for the future. Existing analogue missions have sent crews to live in hostile environments such as deserts for several weeks, in some cases months, under the same physical, organisational, and technological restrictions that future astronauts will face.

The space environment is harsh and extreme, other planets frequently have fluctuating day/night temperatures, aggressive weather events, and unbreathable atmospheres. Time delays also occur between planets; the time taken to contact Mars from Earth can take up to 22 minutes. Some analogue missions implement such time delays in their communications infrastructure, forcing crews to be independent as they cannot hold real-time conversations with each other.


  • Habitat design & construction
  • Astronaut selection & training
  • Human controlled technology
  • Spacesuits & spacesuit systems
  • Communications & IT
  • Mission Operations
  • Mission Control
  • Food

Analogue Mission Research Topics

  • Rover technology
  • Medicine
  • Psychology
  • Botany
  • Geology
  • Optical instrumentation testing
  • Human factors
  • Human performance
  • Astrobiology


OeWF AMADEE / D-Mars / Hi-SEAS / NASA NEEMO / NASA HERA / ESA Caves & Pangaea / MDRS / MARS-500

Photography credit: OeWF / Florian Voggeneder | Paul Santek | Zanella Kux - D-Mars - NASA / Bill Stafford