After four months on simulated Mars, HI-SEAS team is as strong as ever

July 28, 2014 by Kim Binsted, University of Hawaii at Manoa
The crew is in the HI-SEAS habitat.

Real astronauts would be jealous: re-entry was just that easy. For the crew members of the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission, returning to Earth after four months on simulated Mars was as simple as opening a faux airlock door.

Blinking and smiling in the harsh sunlight, the researchers stepped across the threshold and into the welcoming arms of their ground support crew and other observers gathered early on Friday morning. These were the first people outside of their own small group that the researchers have touched or seen since they entered their remote habitat on the slopes of Mauna Loa on March 28.

"This crew has proven to be a strong team throughout the duration of the study," said Kim Binsted, associate professor at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa and principal investigator for the HI-SEAS research effort. "By monitoring their inter-personal interactions, especially during times of stress, we're learning more about the social and emotional factors that determine astronaut crew cohesion. This is a big gap for NASA right now."

Under the HI-SEAS study, Binsted and her collaborators have used video cameras, electronic surveys, crew reports and other sources to keep a watchful eye on the crew inside the habitat.

"Being isolated from the world is tough to deal with, even when you've got company," Binsted said. "HI-SEAS will help us to understand how teams of astronauts will perform under the isolation conditions required for long-duration space travel—such as the kind of trips it would take for humans to get to Mars."

It takes an unmanned spacecraft between 150 to 300 days to travel between Earth and the red planet. Scientists estimate that a manned journey to Mars will take around three years, round trip.

In addition to the crew cohesion study, each of the researchers brought his or her own research project to complete while on simulated Mars. These projects focused on growing plants for human consumption in space, a trash-to-energy conversion study, and the utility of 3D printed surgical tools, among other topics.

The current mission is the first – and shortest – of three new space analog missions focused on human performance factors currently planned for the HI-SEAS habitat site on Mauna Loa, Hawaiʻi. Crew members have not yet been announced for the eight-month mission scheduled to kick off this October. A year-long mission will begin in 2015.

Explore further: Second HI-SEAS Mars space analog study begins

Related Stories

Second HI-SEAS Mars space analog study begins

March 31, 2014

A new space odyssey began tonight as the six crew members of the new Hawai'i Space Exploration and Analog Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission entered their remote habitat on the first night of a four-month-long journey.

What's for dinner on Mars?

August 22, 2013

Imagine finding freeze-dried meats and fruits, dehydrated vegetables, egg crystals, ghee-like anhydrous butter, powdered milk and chipotle peppers in your kitchen, but not a morsel of fresh food.

Finding NEEMO

July 17, 2014

NEEMO – NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations – trains astronauts for life in space. Living and working in an underwater base is similar to being on a space station. This year, NASA has two NEEMO missions planned ...

ESA astronauts return to NEEMO underwater habitat

June 11, 2014

ESA astronauts Andreas Mogensen and Thomas Pesquet spent five days last year as part of NASA's underwater project to test technologies that could be used in future space missions – and now they will return to the seas this ...

Recommended for you

Hyper Suprime-Cam survey maps dark matter in the universe

September 26, 2018

Today, an international group of researchers, including Carnegie Mellon University's Rachel Mandelbaum, released the deepest wide field map of the three-dimensional distribution of matter in the universe ever made and increased ...

Tracking the interstellar object 'Oumuamua to its home

September 25, 2018

A team of astronomers led by Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has tracked the interstellar object 'Oumuamua to several possible home stars. The object was discovered in late 2017 – this was the ...

Four extremely young asteroid families identified

September 25, 2018

Four families of extremely young asteroids have been identified by researchers affiliated with São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Guaratinguetá, Brazil. An article on the discovery has been published in Monthly Notices ...

A new classification scheme for exoplanet sizes

September 24, 2018

There are about 4433 exoplanets in the latest catalogs. Their radii have generally been measured by knowing the radius of their host star and then closely fitting the lightcurves as the planet transits across the face of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.