What Happened During the Year-Long Mars Simulation Dome in Hawaii?
Six scientists successfully finished a year-long Mars simulation inside a dome in Hawaii in a NASA-funded experiment.
Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation (Hi-SEAS) conducted Mars simulation, an exploration analog study run by the University of Hawaii. Six scientists took part in the experiment. During the duration of the simulation, the scientists remained inside the dome in a Hawaii mountain to simulate the Martian conditions.
The scientists lived in isolation for a year to study how working conditions on Mars looks like. Part of the study includes monitoring healthcare, colleague-relations and other factors while entirely in isolation. The members of the experiment can only be allowed to go out of the dome in space suits.
The six scientists successfully "returned" to Earth last Aug. 28. This simulation is part of NASA's steps to prepare for their manned mission to the red planet in 2030. The dome is about 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) above sea level location on a rocky mountain and in a particularly dry area in Mauna Lao volcano in Hawaii. To simulate Martian conditions, there was very limited supply of resources such as water and food, according to Quartz.
The crew graced a press conference right after "returning" to Earth and they have revealed interesting observations gathered throughout the simulation.
"I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic. I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome," Cyprien Verseux, a crewmember from France said in a statement.
Another crewmember, Christiane Heinicke said that they were able to locate water from the dry climate. Getting water from dry land gives hope to scientists that it is possible and may even work on Mars.
But aside from the scientific fact, the simulation also emphasized on the human aspect of choosing a crew. "HI-SEAS is an example of international collaborative research hosted and run by the University of Hawaiʻi," Kim Binsted, HI-SEAS principal investigator said in a statement. "It's really exciting to be able to welcome the crew back to Earth and back to Hawaiʻi after a year on Mars,' Binsted added.
After the successful simulation, Hi-SEAS is moving forward with their plans to conduct more Mars simulations using the dome and is currently recruiting scientists to join the simulation. There will be two more missions conducted using the dome and the next one will start in Jan. 2017.