A sixth mission to 'Mars' is about to get underway — on the slopes of Mauna Loa

An eight-month Mars simulation is about to begin on Hawaii Island

MAUNA LOA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii at Manoa's Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project will soon begin its sixth mission.

At approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday, four astronaut-like Mission VI crew members will enter a geodesic dome habitat atop Mauna Loa on Hawaii Island.

The NASA-funded project aims to help determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions, including travel to Mars.

HI-SEAS Principal Investigator and University of Hawaii at Manoa Professor Kim Binsted says HI-SEAS is important for understanding human behavior and performance in space.

"The University of Hawaii is going to be giving NASA essential information about how you pick individual astronauts and how you put them together in a crew," said Binsted. "But also, how you support them over these long duration missions."

During the eight-month mission, the crew will perform exploration tasks, such as geological fieldwork and life systems management. The mission is conducted under isolated and confined conditions that are designed to be similar to those of a planetary surface exploration mission.

All communications, for example, are delayed by 20 minutes in each direction to simulate the time it takes for a message to travel between Earth and Mars. Daily routines include food preparation from only shelf-stable ingredients, exercise, research and field work aligned with NASA's planetary exploration expectations.

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