Year-long Mars simulation study comes to an end
A team of 6 scientists, part of the Mars simulation study, completed the experiment, where they lived in near isolation for a year. Cyprien Verseux, one of the team members, said that the experiment showed, "a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic" and that "technical and psychological problems can be overcome". The most challenging part he said was the monotony.
HI-SEAS - "Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation", is a NASA-funded, long duration mars exploration analog study. As part of the experiment, various missions are being conducted on an isolated rocky plane of the Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano. This is situated at a height of 8,000 feet above sea level. The human performance study helps in understanding the challenges of a deep space mission.
The Muana Loa volcano was chosen as the right place to conduct the HI-SEAS research as it is thought to be the habitat on earth, closest to that of Martian climate.
Before HI SEAS, there was MARS 500 mission which simulated a round trip to the red planet. It took place at Russian institute for Biomedical Problems, Moscow. It was carried out by Russia and the European Space Agency. MARS 500 was conducted in three stages. Third stage was the longest with a duration of 520 days - 3 June 2010 to 4 Nov, 2011.
HI-SEAS IV, the fourth HI-SEAS mission, planned for the duration of 365 days, is the second longest mission of its kind after MARS 500. It began on 29 Aug, 2015. Here a team of 6 scientists stayed in a solar powered dome, with limited contact from outside world. The crew members, monitored by cameras and body-movement trackers, could go outside only wearing spacesuits.
The HI SEAS IV had a 6 member crew - 3 male, 3 female participants. They included - Soil scientist Carmel Johnston , physicist Christiane Heinicke, astrophysicist and neuro-scientist Sheyna Gifford, pilot Andrzej Stewart, astro-biologist Cyprien Verseux and architect Tristan Bassingthwaighte.