NASA is beginning a mission in Hawaii that plans to study how astronauts can survive on Mars for a long period of time. The mission is to stick a few people inside a dome on a Hawaiian volcano to see how they interact with each other. The mission will last eight months, with the people being stuck in a dome, away from reality.
The mission name is being HISEAS, which stands for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation. The mission will not be tested by astronauts. The subjects in the study were selected by NASA; these are just normal people who want to get closer to the action of being an astronaut. They are not using real astronauts because the mock mission is only to study the psychological aspects of people being alone in a confined space together for long periods of time. When people are bunched together for long periods of time, there are known to be some fights, arguments, agitations and negative side effects like depression, anxiety and conflicts with the others.
The real mission to mars, which they have scheduled for 2030, will last as long as two and a half years. So, studying the process is very important. The journey to mars takes six months to get there and six months to get back. They plan to stay on Mars for around a year and a half. Other training missions have been done by Russia, so, attempts to spend time on Mars are not only a NASA operation.
The NASA mission to Mars in Hawaii will need well trained people. Of the 150 different applicants, six were chosen for the mock mission. The subjects were chosen from a group of people on a camping trip in the Rockies. Members were chosen based on their ability to work together and their ability to survive. Being alone with five other people in a small space for a long time, subjects need to be able to handle seclusion, and also be able to work together when it comes to matters of the mission and situations that require teamwork. Some of the people chosen there are a chemical engineer, a Purdue grad-student, an army veteran, an entrepreneur, and a NASA aerospace engineer.
The dome is a two-story building that is round in shape. It takes up about 1,500 square feet of space with a 36 foot diameter around. The dome is about 8,000 feet altitude on a volcano on Mauna Loa, Hawaii. A really tight space for 6 people to live in for a year with only the occasional exit to work on science experiments and space practice drills.
The NASA mission in Hawaii is not built to test these people to live on Mars; it is a test of what the human brain can handle in intense situations and to push the limits of isolation. The people chosen have volunteered to be a part of science and discovery. NASA needs to be prepared to send Americans into a very dangerous planet, but the key to discovery is to take risks, but NASA is sure to make sure that they are prepared.
By Evan Linneman
Photo By Cyril Rana – Flickr License