New Delhi: In January this year, a NASA crew comprising four men and two women were sent into quarantine on a Mars-like habitat on a vast plain below the summit of the giant volcano Mauna Loa – one of Hawaii’s five volcanoes and the world’s largest.
This was an 8-month-long simulation activity, which was done to gain a better understanding and to get a bit of a feel for how astronauts would respond mentally, physically, and most importantly, psychologically to a long-term on a manned space mission as well as in an inhospitable environment.
The six research team finally came out of isolation on Sunday.
“Long term space travel is absolutely possible,” Laura Lark, specialist at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project, led by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, was quoted as saying to the inquisitr.com on Saturday.
“There are certainly technical challenges to be overcome. There are certainly human factors to be figured out, that’s part of what HI-SEAS is for. But I think that overcoming those challenges is just a matter of effort. We are absolutely capable of it,” Lark added.
Their experiment included everything from being forced to live in the cramped habitat of the dome to having to rely solely on packaged food – and virtually no contact with another living soul.
The atmosphere was as similar as possible to what life on Mars would be. All of the communications the crew could have with the outside world was subjected to a 20-minute delay – the time it takes for signals to get from Mars to the Earth.
The data gathered during this mission can better help in choosing crews that have certain traits and a better chance of doing well during a potential two-to-three year Mars expedition, which would then pave the way for humans settlement in the red planet by around 2030.