Crew ends a year on Hawaii’s make-believe Mars

Image: Simulation crew

Andrzej Stewart, chief engineering officer for the HI-SEAS simulation, looks around after emerging from a habitat in Hawaii. Other crew members celebrate in the background. (Credit: Univ. of Hawaii)

After spending 365 days cooped up in a habitat and mock spacesuits in Hawaii, six volunteers say astronauts can cope with an even longer, real-life mission to Mars and back.

“A mission to Mars in the close future is realistic,” said Cyprien Verseux, a French biology student who was part of the HI-SEAS simulation crew. “I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome.”

Verseux and his crewmates were held in isolation for an entire year inside the 1,200-square-foot habitat on the slopes of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. They were allowed to venture outside only for scientific expeditions while wearing simulation spacesuits.

The experiment is part of a NASA-funded program aimed at identifying psychological, technological and logistical factors that might pose challenges for a long-term mission to Mars. This was the fourth and longest simulation managed by HI-SEAS at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

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About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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