Scientists are simulating life on Mars
HONOLULU: Six scientists have entered a dome perched on top of a remote volcano in Hawaii where they will spend the next eight months in isolation to simulate life for astronauts travelling to Mars, the University of Hawaii said.
The study is designed to help Nasa better understand human behaviour and performance during long space missions as the US space agency explores plans for a manned mission to the Red Planet.
“I’m proud of the part we play in helping reduce the barriers to a human journey to Mars,” said Kim Binsted, the mission’s principal investigator.
The crew will perform geological fieldwork and basic daily tasks in the 365 square metre dome, located in an abandoned quarry 2.5km above sea level on the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island.
There is little vegetation and the scientists will have no contact with the outside world, said the university, which operates the dome.
Communications with a mission control-team will be time-delayed to match the 20-minute travel time of radio waves passing between Earth and Mars.
“Daily routines include food preparation from only shelf-stable ingredients, exercise, research and fieldwork aligned with Nasa’s planetary exploration expectations,” the university said.
The project is intended to create guidelines for future missions to Mars, some 56 million kilometres away, a longterm goal of the US human space programme.
The Nasa-funded study, known as the Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation (Hi-SEAS), is the fifth study of its kind to be conducted. – Reuters
Paving the way for astronauts to the Red Planet
REPLICATING CONDITIONS: Six carefully selected scientists entered a geodesic dome on top of the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii on Thursday in a human-behaviour study by Nasa to send astronauts on missions to Mars.
FIELDWORK: In this 2014 photo Lucie Poulet, right, and Annie Caraccio record data during a previous study outside the domed structure on Hawaii’s Big Island.