MAUNA LOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mission accomplished! A University of Hawaii research team stepped out of their simulated Mars environment on Mauna Loa on Friday, completing a four-month-long study.
During the mission, researchers kept a close watch on the six-member team monitoring their interpersonal relationships, especially in times of stress.
"We were essentially strangers getting here. So when we were placed into the habitat in such a confined space you kind of learned everybody's personality and their likes and dislikes," said crew member Anne Caraccio, the project's chief engineer from Florida. "Luckily this crew was outstanding in the fact that they are very hard workers."
The current mission is the first and shortest of three new space missions focused on human performance.
"Sometimes it was like when you're on a family vacation as a kid and you're trapped in the backseat with your brothers and sisters. You can't escape. You either get along or it's going to be a miserable trip," said project Commander Casey Stedman from Ohio.
Now that they're free, French crew member Lucie Poulet said she just wants to enjoy Hawaii.
"I'd really like to see the ocean actually. I've never been on the beach here," she said. "It's fun to think that I've spent four months in Hawaii and I've never seen the beach!"
The purpose of the mission was to understand how astronauts will perform under isolated conditions on long duration space travel to the red planet.
A year-long mission in the habitat site is slated to begin in 2015.
Scientists estimate that a manned journey to Mars will take around three years -- round trip.