When most people go on vacation, they want to forget all about their jobs. But ESA physicist-engineer Vladimir Pletser, who develops ISS payloads and organizes zero-gravity parabolic flights for the agency, is taking the ultimate working holiday. This week, he’s off to Mars. It’s not exactly Mars, of course. Manned missions to the Sun’s fourth planet – currently the brightest object in Europe’s evening skies – will have to wait a while yet. Instead, Pletser will be heading for the Arctic, where throughout the summer crews of scientists will spend ten-day stints in a cramped habitat that closely simulates a Mars lander.