UH & NASA looking for a few good astronaut wannabes

Published: Feb. 23, 2012 at 3:52 AM HST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2012 at 8:52 AM HST
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UH Information and Computer Sciences professor Kim Binsted
UH Information and Computer Sciences professor Kim Binsted

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Space junkies, strap on your spacesuits!

The University of Hawaii and NASA are on the hunt for participants for a first-of-its-kind habitat study to Mars. NASA has a mission to Mars in its sights, and Hawaii is about to play a big part. This experiment could get us one step closer to the red planet.

"We're going to be sending people to Mars, at least Mars on the Big Island," says UH Information and Computer Sciences professor Kim Binsted. She's partnering with NASA -to study space food and its importance to astronauts.

Binsted explains, "Right now, when they go the space station, they tend to come back several pounds lighter than when they went. They don't eat properly when they're there, and that's fine for a few months, but if you're going for two-and-a-half years to Mars, for example, that's not good."

The project entails setting up living quarters on the Big Island for a six person crew. The sleeping and working conditions are less than ideal - simulating what life would look and feel like on Mars.

"They're going to be acting as if they're exploring Mars, so they can't go outside without their spaceship, without their spacesuits on, they have a time delay like they would communicating from Mars," Binsted says.

Video cameras will record their every move. Researchers will monitor the crew's eating habits, including how often and exactly what they consume. The goal is to get a better sense of how to equip our astronauts with food that will keep them healthy on long-term space missions.

Participants must be between 21 and 65 years old. Those who complete the study will receive five-thousand dollars.

Binsted says Hawaii is the perfect place for this kind of research."It's got a Mars-like environment that NASA needs for its studies, but unlike some of the other places in the world that have this, Hawaii is accessible year-round."

The experiment is expected to begin January of next year.

Copyright 2012 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.