Future Mars inhabitants: bring lots of books.
A group of six scientists emerged from their “Mars habitat” on Sunday after a year-long simulation of living on the planet to share their unique perspective on the experience and give insight into how life on Mars could be.
Since August 2015, the six crew members have been living in a 1,200-square-foot, solar-powered dome that was placed on the side of a Hawaiian volcano. The experiment, which was dubbed the Hawaiian Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, housed the “lavanauts” to test the results of strangers living in close quarters for a long period of time.
During the debriefing, the crew revealed what their biggest challenges were, and the answers may surprise you. Crew member Tristan Bassingthwaighte, the Crew Architect, said in an interview on Periscope,
“More than anything it’s just kind of keeping yourself from getting bored and dealing with cabin fever.”
That’s right. The people that spent a year living as close to Mars-like conditions have a similar problem that plagues those here on Earth: boredom. Fellow crew member Christiane Heinicke, a German physicist reinforced this idea and added,
“Bring something to work on. Something meaningful to work on. One of your biggest enemies is boredom. The other big enemies, of course, are the rest of the crew.”
Besides this typical problem, however, there were of course challenges that they faced that were unique to their situation. The crew was only given water and food every two and four months, respectively, to simulate real-life on Mars. When their system for gathering and treating water broke, the team had some serious issues because they wouldn’t be receiving another shipment soon.
The crew also had to deal with limited communication with their friends and family over a data link, which had a deliberate 20-minute delay, and they couldn’t go outside without their spacesuits on. They aren’t the first crew to undergo the simulation, but they endured the longest amount of time in the habitat, all in an effort to study “team performance and cohesion”.
As for the habitat itself, the study designers described the area in a press release, and it does seem pretty nice:
“It is an open concept design that includes common areas such as kitchen, dining, bathroom with shower, lab, exercise, and work spaces. A second floor loft spans an area of 424 square feet and includes six separate bedrooms and a half bath.”
There was also a workshop attached to the habitat for additional space to complete projects. The team recommends that future inhabitants bring a ton of books to keep their mind sharp and their time filled up. The initiative is still going, and volunteers for the mission can sign up to undergo the next simulations, which begin in January 2017 and 2018.
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