NASA is doing a simulation for future Mars missions. Six scientists have been sent to a man-made dome on a remote volcano in Hawaii on Thursday, Jan. 19. They would be staying on the site for eight months as part of a study to investigate the psychological difficulties in living on confined conditions for a long period of time.
The site, which is called the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS is operated by the University of Hawaii. There are various sites made for Mars mission simulations but an advantage of the HI-SEAS is, it has Mars-like landscape located at the summit of the world's largest active volcano. Previous Mars simulation projects in the said dome studied the food requirements of long-term mission to Mars.
The six members – four men and two women – were chosen after a strict selection process according to NPR. The team is composed of engineers, a biomedical expert, a computer scientist and doctoral candidate, which were selected from 700 applicants who have undergone interviews, tests and background checks. They will have no physical contact from the outside world and would have a 20-minute communication delay from the support crew on the duration of the study.
Each member will have sleeping quarters in the dome. Their food will mostly be freeze-dried or canned goods but there will also be some food drooped off from a distance. They are also required to wear spacesuits for mapping missions and geological expeditions.
"When I started, my biggest fear was that we were going to be that crew that turned out like Biosphere 2, which wasn't a very pretty picture," said Mars mission simulation commander James Bevington according to Phys.org. The Biosphere 2 is a 1990’s experiment which aimed to learn what humans need to live in another planet. A crew of eight members were sent to a greenhouse-like habitat in Arizona where they were supposed to grow their food and recycle oxygen. The experiment went out of control as the plants and animals died and the crew members ended up having a fight.