'Astronauts' Conclude Mauna Loa Mars Mission


Six crew members emerged from the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat on Mauna Loa on Sunday morning, Sept. 17, wrapping up an eight-month mission in isolation.

The group of scientists, who lived together within the close-confines of a geodesic dome since January, is the fifth group of participants to undergo the long-duration planetary mission study.

HI-SEAS is a University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa research project funded by NASA to study the physiological and psychological effects of long-term isolation on humans in preparation for future manned missions into deep space.

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“Long-term space travel is absolutely possible,” said Laura Lark, a HI-SEAS crew member and IT specialist. “There are certainly technical challenges to be overcome. There are certainly human factors to be figured out, that’s part of what HI-SEAS is for. But I think that overcoming those challenges is just a matter of effort. We are absolutely capable of it.”

The crew entered the habitat on Jan. 19, 2017, and have had limited contact with the outside world mediated by a time delay to mimic transmissions between Earth and Mars. Throughout the mission, crewmembers only exited the habitat to conduct extravehicular activities in mock spacesuits.

After leaving the habitat, the crew enjoyed foods unavailable during the mission, followed by a press conference with interviews to relate their experiences over the last eight months.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.

Photo courtesy of HI-SEAS.



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