Date
17 December 2017
The scientists lived in near isolation inside a dome on a Mauna Loa mountain in Hawaii. Photo: AFP
The scientists lived in near isolation inside a dome on a Mauna Loa mountain in Hawaii. Photo: AFP

Six-member team ends year-long Mars simulation in Hawaii

Six scientists have completed a year-long simulation of a Mars mission in Hawaii.

The team lived in near isolation inside a dome on a Mauna Loa mountain, which was chosen because its soil is similar to that found on Mars, The Guardian reports. 

There is barely any plant growth in the area because of its high elevation.

Since Aug. 29, 2015, the group lived in close quarters inside the dome, which is almost 11 meters (36 feet) in diameter and 6 meters (20 feet) tall. 

They were only allowed to go outside if they wore spacesuits.

There was no fresh air, fresh food or privacy inside.

The group included a French astrobiologist, a German physicist and four Americans – a pilot, an architect, a doctor/journalist and a soil scientist.

The NASA-funded project run by the University of Hawaii is the longest of its kind since a Russian mission that lasted 520 days, the BBC said.

Experts estimate that an actual human mission to the Red Planet could take about one to three years.

Aside from making do with limited resources, another major challenge for the participants is to avoid personal conflicts.

Each member had a small sleeping cot and a desk, news website RT said. They mostly ate powdered cheese and canned tuna during their stay.

The group ended the simulation on Sunday.

Emerging from the dome, the crew members said their experience showed that a mission to Mars could succeed.

“I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic. I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome,” Cyprien Verseux of France said.

Germany’s Christiane Heinicke said the scientists were able to find their own water in a dry climate.

“Showing that it works, you can actually get water from the ground that is seemingly dry. It would work on Mars and the implication is that you would be able to get water on Mars from this little greenhouse construct,” she said.

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