MAUNA LOA, Hawaii – One year after sequestering themselves in a geodesic dome on the slopes of a Hawaii Island volcano, the six crew members of the Mars simulation mission emerged to cheers and media cameras.
For 365 days, the Martian-like environment at the 8,200 ft. level of Mauna Loa was the only home for the participants in the fourth University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s fourth Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, project; it was the longest mission in project history.
“HI-SEAS is an example of international collaborative research hosted and run by the University of Hawai‘i,” said Kim Binsted, HI-SEAS principal investigator and UH professor, “so its really exciting to be able to welcome the crew back to earth and back to Hawai‘i after a year on Mars.”
Like the previous HI-SEAS missions, research over the past year focused on crewmember cohesion and performance.
“The UH research going on up here is just super vital when it comes to picking crews, figuring out how people are going to actually work on different kinds of missions, and sort of the human factors element of space travel, colonization, whatever it is you are actually looking at,” said Tristan Bassingthwaighte, a doctor of architecture candidate at UH Mānoa. Bassingthwaighte served as the crew’s architect.
“We’re proud to be helping NASA reduce or remove the barriers to long-duration space exploration,” said Binsted.