Experts living at the Hawaii Mars simulation dome have exited the structure where they lived in isolation for 365 days. The group lived on the Mauna Loa mountain and could go out only wearing spacesuits.
Principal Investigator for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), Kim Binsted, said the researchers were looking forward to getting into the ocean and eating fresh fruit that was otherwise unavailable in the dome.
The NASA-funded study was the second-longest of its kind since another mission that lasted 520 days in Russia, Binsted said.
The experiment was to test whether the crew of three men and three women could live in close quarters over an extended period of time in adverse conditions.
Each scientist worked on a research project and coped with limited resources while avoiding personal conflicts within the dome. Communications from the dome to the outside world took 20 minutes – the time it would take for messages to relay to and from Mars.
The experiment is expected to provide new insights into space research. If humankind could realize a trip to the red planet, reaching it alone could take a year. Crews traveling to Earth’s neighbor would have to survive in an inhospitable environment and wait for the perfect planetary alignment to enable them to travel home.
The project’s principal investigator Binsted said that three other shorter simulations were held in the Hawaii dome and two more simuations – of eight months each – were planned for the future.
mg/kl (AP, dpa)