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NASA Ends One Year Isolation in Hawaii, Mars Mock Crew Returns to Civilization

Aug 29, 2016 12:09 AM EDT

The Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program by NASA had officially ended Sunday. Six of the crew members have gone back to civilization after a year in isolation. This is the fourth program and longest HI-SEAS mission by NASA to date.

Six HI-SEAS mission participants namely Andrzej Steward, Tristan Bassingthwaighte, Cyprien Verseux, Sheyna E. Gifford, Carmel Johnston, and Christiane Heinicke lived together in isolation for 12 months. The mission members lived in an isolated habitat on the rocky slopes of Mauna Loa located in Hawaii.

The habitat is a self-sufficient structure, but with a limited amount of food which included canned tuna and powdered cheese. Members had to live without fresh food and fresh air. Each member had a small sleeping cot and a desk provided in their rooms.

Some of the challenges the members faced include living in a closed off habitat without much privacy, rationing food resources, as well as a malfunctioning plumbing system which left them to bathe with the use of buckets. Members have even written blog posts about the HI-SEAS experience.

After 12 long months, the members finally came out of the isolation Sunday at 3 pm ET. Aside from getting in touch with family and friends, members are looking forward to eating fresh food.

"The researchers are looking forward to getting in the ocean and eating fresh produce and other foods that weren't available in the dome," stated Kim Binsted, the principal investigator for the HI-SEAS program.

According to the HI-SEAS website, the program would help researchers "focus on the need to identify psychological and psychosocial factors, measures, and combinations that can be used to compose highly effective teams for self-directing long-duration exploration missions."

Currently, HI-SEAS is looking for participants in its upcoming two isolation missions. Members of the missions will be sent to Mars for the mission set in 2017 and 2018. Applications for the next isolation mission are due by September 5. Interested participants may apply at the HI-SEAS project website.

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