Mars crew emerges from desert dome

The Week - Junior - - Science And Technology -

Six sci­en­tists have emerged from a spe­cial dome on a moun­tain in Hawaii af­ter spend­ing eight months in near-to­tal iso­la­tion. The sci­en­tists were test­ing what it would be like to live on Mars.

The group lived in a dome on Mauna Loa, which is one of five vol­ca­noes that form the is­land of Hawaii. The soil near Mauna Loa is so dry, it is sim­i­lar to the soil on Mars. The dome is also re­ally high up, which means al­most no plant life can grow there.

In the dome, the sci­en­tists had to carry out re­search and track how much food, wa­ter and power they used. They were only al­lowed to eat freeze-dried food, and had to wear space­suits to go out­side. They also had a 20-minute de­lay when com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the out­side world. This is how long it would take for a mes­sage to be sent from Earth to Mars.

The dome in­cluded space for the crew to sleep, plus a kitchen, lab­o­ra­tory, bath­room and sim­u­lated air­lock sys­tem for get­ting out­side.

The big­gest prob­lem that can arise dur­ing a long mis­sion like this is mak­ing sure the crew mem­bers don’t have too many ar­gu­ments. Bri­tish par­tic­i­pant Sam Payler said that los­ing in­ter­net ac­cess was a big­ger prob­lem than ar­gu­ments in the dome. “I was very lucky to have a great crew. No iso­lated group can be im­mune to any ar­gu­ments, but ev­ery­one did an amaz­ing job of work­ing through any is­sues we had,” he said.

When the crew mem­bers emerged from the dome, they feasted on fresh fruit and got to see their fam­i­lies. Cy­prien Verseux, a sci­en­tist from France, said mis­sions like this prove that hu­mans could go to Mars.

“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,” she said.

This is the fifth sim­u­lated mis­sion in the dome. The next is sched­uled to be­gin next year, and will also last eight months.

The crew emerged af­ter eight months. The Mauna Loa dome is 2,500 me­tres above sea level in Hawaii, US.

Six sci­en­tists took part in the

ex­per­i­ment.

The sci­en­tists could only eat freeze-dried food.

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