Six scientists chosen for 365-day Mars trip simulation on Mauna Loa

Published: Aug. 3, 2015 at 6:46 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 3, 2015 at 7:46 PM HST
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(Image source: University of Hawaii System)
(Image source: University of Hawaii System)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - By Victoria Cuba

Six scientists have been chosen for the longest Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission yet.

Starting August 28, the new crew will spend 365 days in isolation in a solar-powered dome on Mauna Loa. This fourth mission will focus on developing the crew's performance to create a successful trip to and from Mars, an estimated three-year journey.

"The longer each mission becomes, the better we can understand the risks of space travel," said Kim Binsted, HI-SEAS principal investigator.

Binsted hopes that the mission will help them better understand the factors involved in long-duration space travel and better prepare their flight crew for space.

The crew will be monitored through cameras, body movement trackers, electronic surveys and other methods to define the impacts on the team's performance.

The HI-SEAS crew for this mission includes Sheyna Gifford, Tristan Bassingthwaighte, Carmel Johnston, Andrzej Stewart, Cyprien Verseux and Christiane Heinicke. Gifford has previously worked on the HESSI satellite at the Space Science Laboratories and is a contributor to NASA educational websites. Bassingthwaighte is currently working on designing conceptual habitats on Mars for his doctorates in architecture. Johnston's interest in global food production lead her to the HI-SEAS food production research on the Mars simulation. Stewart recently served as a flight engineer for the NASA's sixth Human Exploration Research Analog and worked as a interplanetary flight controller. Verseux is an astrobiologist working on a search for life beyond Earth and is an expert in biological life support systems for Mars exploration. Heinicke is a German physicist and engineer, who worked with sea ice, polar ice, metal melts and simulations of the Earth's mantle.

The mission before this lasted for four months , ending on July 28.

HI-SEAS is looking forward to continuing these missions with a grant that they received from NASA in May. This will continue to fund the research project and their missions until 2018.

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