"I'm loving feeling the breeze against me. Even the warmth of the sun on my face, that's nice."
Researcher Sian Proctor was obviously joyous when stepping out of a dome and into the sunlight for the first time in 120 days.
She was part of a crew of six researchers who spent the last four months living in the dome atop Mauna Loa as part of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation program.
The NASA funded project set out to answer a simple, yet critical question: Which type of food preparation will serve astronauts best as they travel through space on long missions?
Currently, astronauts rely on pre-packaged meals that require only water and heat to serve. The HI-SEAS team used ingredients similar to those one would find at home to prepare their meal.
"I really think we proved that by offering people shelf stable ingredients, and the possibility to cook meals with that, that it will be a good strategy to keep people enthusiastic about the food they eat" said researcher Angelo Vermeulen.
Researchers collected data on not just the food, but how they reacted to preparing it in each way.
"You definitely need the ability to express yourself, take away some of that boredom and menu fatigue. But you also want some of the efficiency that comes along with those days that you're really busy, and you just want to make something quick" said Proctor.