Sci­en­tists are sim­u­lat­ing life on Mars

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

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

PIC­TURE: UNIVER­SITY OF HAWAII / AP

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.

PIC­TURE: AP

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.

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