NASA starts year-long Mars isolation experiment in Hawaii

To simulate life on Mars, six people will go into small isolation dome near barren volcano in Hawaii for one year

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

NASA’s year-long Mars isolation experiment begins.

The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has launched the longest US isolation experiment ever attempted. 

Experiment is part of the preparations for a pioneering journey to Mars.

During the experiment, six people will go into a small isolation dome near a barren volcano in Hawaii.

The six crew members will enter the dome on Friday, Sept. 4 to experience the longest US isolation which will last a year.

The NASA crew includes a French astrobiologist, a German physicist and four Americans; a pilot, an architect, a doctor/journalist and a soil scientist who will live in close quarters under the dome, without fresh air, fresh food or privacy.

The men and women will be based on the northern slope of Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii, living inside a dome that is 11 metres across and 6 metres high. Also a journey outside the dome will require a spacesuit.

The six crew members will have their own small rooms, with a small sleeping cot, desk and limited access to the internet. Their diet will consist of canned tuna and powdered cheese.

Crew member Sheyna Gifford described the team as "six people who want to change the world by making it possible for people to leave it at will" in a post on her blog.

NASA has recently conducted four-month and eight-month-long isolation experiments and estimates that a human mission to Mars, where NASA hopes to reach in the 2030s, would take between one to three years.

With all that time living in tight quarters without access to fresh air, food, or privacy, conflicts are inevitable.

"I think one of the lessons is that you really can't prevent interpersonal conflicts. It is going to happen over these long-duration missions, even with the very best people," said Kim Binsted, a principal investigator of Nasa.


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