Scientists organized a Mars simulation on the Mauna Loa mountain top from Hawaii, as they are preparing for a real trip to the Red Planet. The team had six members who all had to deal with the restrictions imposed by space conditions.
An official from the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation said that the mission had been the second-largest after a 530-day mission from Russia.
The Mars Simulation Experiment
The members of the team are scientists coming from various parts of the world, such as France, Germany and the US. The researchers have different areas of expertise, and they have to collaborate in their scientific work conducted on the top of Mauna Loa.
The research lasted for a year, and the researchers spent all their time by going outside in spacesuits, eating canned foods and living inside a doom.
The soil near the volcano is very similar to the ground on Mars. The experiment was set at 8,200 feet above the sea level. Almost no plants grow in the region, because of the high elevation.
Besides not being allowed to exit without wearing a spacesuit, another part of the Mars simulation involved the scientists managing limited resources and avoiding personal conflicts, as the environment would offer them little psychological comfort.
Being able to perform in isolation and having limited contact with their friends and families was also a factor which was monitored during the experiment.
Moreover, all communication to the outside world had a 20 minutes delay, which is the exact period in which a message would arrive on Mars.
The Research on Mauna Loa
After they leave the doom, the experimental team will be provided with fresh fruits and other foods that had not been available to them while being in the Mars simulated environment. The members said they for sure wanted to have a swim.
The study had been financed by NASA and supported by the University of Hawaii. The crew that participated was composed by an astronomer, a soil scientist, an astrobiologist and a physicist. The mission end is set on the 28th of August.
Mauna Loa hosted other simulations that lasted between four and eight months, and the scientists prepare two new other experiments in the future, which will probably last for eight months. The next Mars simulation will start in January 2017.
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