BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Get ready for the news of astronauts being sent to Mars, or at least prepare to get used to the idea. NASA selected six scientists to live on a man-made dome in Hawaii and observe their behavior in what it is a preparation to send humans on long missions to Mars.
The scientists, four men and two women, will be spending eight months in a simulated space shelter of about 1,200 feet. The shelter is situated on the remote volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii. During these eight months, they will have no physical contact whatsoever with outside people and will have to work with a delay of 20 minutes in communication with their support crew. This is the time that an email will take to reach Earth from Mars.
The study, funded by NASA, is meant to look at the psychological difficulties humans will face when living in isolation for a prolonged period of time. The participants to the experiment were carefully selected from 700 applicants after being subjected to personality tests, background checks, and other interviews. They are engineers, a computer scientist, a doctoral candidate, and a biomedical expert.
Although the study is funded by NASA, the University of Hawaii operates the dome. It is called Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. NASA offered more than $2 million to different studies in the dome. Others were meant to study food requirements and crew cohesion and lasted for eight months or even more than a year.
The Hawaii Mars simulation project is not the only one around the world. However, the biggest advantage of this one is the barren landscape on a red plain below the world’s largest active volcano. The whole landscape resembles that of Mars.
The dome contains sleeping quarters and also a kitchen, laboratory, and a bathroom. The crew will have to eat dried and frozen foods, but also some canned goods that are brought to them. However, in order to maintain the idea of isolation, these foods will be dropped at a distance from the dome and they will have to send a robot to bring them in.
They will not be confined to the dome, but will have to wear spacesuits when going outside for exploration. Also, they will wear some devices meant to measure their states and moods, which will also simulate familiar situations to help them get through with the mission.
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