After living in a Mars mission simulation for one whole year, an international ragbag of test subjects from the HI-SEAS IV mission emerged from their dome on Sunday.
Since August 28, 2015, they’ve been living in a Mars simulation habitat on the slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island. This location was chosen because the soil is fairly close to the Martian landscape. The region's elevation also means there is no plant life.
The mission involved a French astrobiologist, a German physicist, and four Americans – a pilot, an architect, a soil scientist, and a doctor who doubled as a journalist. They had to live in extremely close proximity, with little privacy and limited resources. If they were to leave the dome, which measures 11 meters (36 feet) in diameter and 6 meters (20 feet) in height, they had to wear a spacesuit.
The aim was to understand the social and emotional effects of long-term space travel, such as voyaging to Mars, which could take up to three years of travel.
“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 crew member and doctor of architecture candidate.