Maui News

‘Astronauts’ Conclude Mauna Loa Mars Mission

September 18, 2017, 3:05 PM HST
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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.”

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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.

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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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