On January 19, six strangers begin an eight-month stay in Hawaii living in a simulated Martian environment in preparation for the Mars missions. The mission itself is called Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS and is located on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano. The site is a real representation of what life will be like on Mars, and the mission will give scientists a deeper insight into how people will interact with each other under such proximity of one another for so long.
But, this kind of experiment failed miserably backing 1994 with the seven people Biosphere II project. All participants ended up vowing never to speak with one another. So, let’s just hope NASA has it right with its six-person HI-SEAS mission. This mission will have the six so-called astronauts living in the facility for a total of eight months. During that time, the participants will do everything an astronaut would do on Mars including always wearing a spacesuit outside and only eating freeze-dried space food. They also have to learn to cope with the 20-minute delay in radio transmissions to and from Earth.
This is the fifth mission of its kind at the Hawaii site, and more than 700 people applied to take part, so as you can see it sparks a lot of interest. In each mission, NASA is getting a better idea of what is and isn’t need as part of the Mars missions, and how as a society, they can learn to cope. It will also allow them to decide what type of people will make the best astronauts, how to best assemble a crew, and how to be able to support that crew along the way. VR headsets were given to participants during the last mission to try and alleviate loneliness and allowed them to view their loved ones eating Thanksgiving dinner. This time VR will be used to predict individual’s performance levels, stress levels and overall health to gain a better insight into what’s needed to achieve optimal cooperation.
It’s essential that these pre-missions are carried out before delving deep into space with little more than a whim and a prayer. With each mission, NASA scientists are gaining a deeper understanding as to what they need to ensure a healthy settlement is achieved on Mars and that we don’t send people up there to live alone and not talk to one another. After all, preparation is the key.
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