For the following 8 months, a team of six scientists will be calling home a dome in Hawaii as they are part of a NASA human behavior study that could help in future missions.
NASA has increasingly more daring plans. The space agency is planning on expanding its outreach. New discoveries about other space objects are quite constant. And space agencies are already in a race towards other planets. At the same time, they are considering a Mars colony.
But this is easier said than done. Landing safely on the planet is one of the first issues that needs solving. Still, another one would be its human members. Besides landing them, the future mission will have to ensure their safety. And also an adaptation to their environment.
As such, NASA has organized a new human behavior study. It has carefully selected six scientists. they will be living in a man-made dome. This is situated on a remote volcano, in Hawaii. More exactly, it is on Mauna Loa.
Out of the six scientists, four are men and two are women. They will be living in a simulated Martian environment. The researchers have already moved into their new home. They started inhabiting it last week, on Thursday.
Their dome home is 1,200 square feet. It is basically a vinyl-covered shelter. It is approximately as big as a small, two-bedroom home.
The habitat has been designed so as to imitate the predicted Martian life. More exactly, the six scientists will not have physical contact with other people. And the outside world will be at a 20-minute delay.
This has been set so as to imitate the communication transmission. A message from an astronaut to the support crew, from Mars to Earth, would take around 20 minutes to transmit.
NASA has been very careful in selecting the study members. Its purpose is to study the psychological effects of such a mission. More exactly, it will try to determine the potential difficulties.
Living in confined conditions can have an effect on the psyche. Especially if it is over a longer period of time. And probably even more so if it is on another planet.
Kim Binsted went to offer details. She is a University of Hawaii Science Professor. And also the study’s principal investigator.
Binsted stated that they are trying to establish a selection standard. Research is hoping to determine the best parameters for choosing astronauts. Also, for composing a long-term mission crew. It will also be trying to determine the best support system for such a crew. To establish what they would need. And also how their need can be met.
The current six scientists come from various fields. One is a computer scientist, whilst another is a doctoral candidate. The team is also composed of engineers. And also a biomedical expert.
They were selected from around 700 applicants. All potential participants had to go through a series of tests. Background checks were conducted. And they faced personality tests and extensive interviews.
The University of Hawaii is in charge of the dome. Its official name is the HI-SEAS. Or more exactly, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation.
Its dome home is an opaque structure. But it is not airtight. It has separate sleeping quarters for each crew member. A bathroom, kitchen, and laboratory were also included. Hawaii is considered one of the top places for such studies.
The six scientists will be living on a red, rocky, rugged plain. It is situated below the summit of the Mauna Loa. This latter is the world’s largest active volcano. And the area surrounding it has a very Mars-like appearance and characteristics.
This is not the first experiment of its type. Scientists have previously lived in dome houses for extended periods of times. But each mission had a somewhat different purpose.
In order to maintain the Martian feeling, the scientists will be wearing spacesuits when going outside. Their food supplies will be dropped at quite a distance. They will be wearing special equipment.
It will measure their moods and proximity to other members. Virtual reality devices will be used so as to help get them through the mission. These will simulate comforting environments.
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