After “Living on Mars” for Eight Months, Mission V Subjects Are Coming Home
After spending eight months simulating life on Mars on the slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano, four men and two women came back from their Hawaiian habitat on Sept. 17.
Mars mission of the NASA-funded HI-SEAS program (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) sent six individuals to serve as psychology research subjects for Mission V at a facility at the University of Hawaii.
During the mission, the team lived 8,500 feet above sea level on a chosen terrain that roughly resembles that of Mars, eating only shelf-stable foods and occasional lab-grown vegetables.
All this time the only way to go outside was wearing special spacesuits with limited oxygen to replicate what it would be like to live on the red planet.
After eight months of isolation, inside a dome that is 1,200 square-foot (111-square meter) long, Laura Lark (one of the participants on the project) said:
“Long-term space travel is absolutely possible. There are certainly technical challenges to be overcome, human factors to be figured out, but that’s part of what HI-SEAS is for. I think that overcoming those challenges is just a matter of effort. We are absolutely capable of it.”
The engineering officer for HI-SEAS V, Ansley Barnard had his point:
“Remember that the toilet systems are also a system and they’re a living system, so stay in balance with those, let them talk to you, if they smell a certain way or act a certain way they’re trying to tell you something, so listen.”
The US space agency hopes to be able to send humans to Mars by the 2030s.
A full image gallery can be found here.
We strongly recommend Volcanic features of Hawaii: A basis for comparison with Mars (NASA SP).