Can Mars be Successfully Simulated on Earth?

Can Mars be Successfully Simulated on Earth?

In preparation for humans going to Mars by the 2030's, NASA has been conducting various experiments to test the plausibility of humans being able to live on the red planet. The most recent experiment conducted by NASA is an attempt to replicate the atmosphere of Mars and includes six carefully selected scientists living in a man-made dome on a remote volcano in Hawaii.

image © University of Hawaii

image © University of Hawaii

On January 19th, 2017, four men and two women moved into their simulated space home for their eight-month stay.  During their stay they will have no physical contact with people in the outside world and will work with a 20-minute delay in communications with their support crew. 

According to ABC News, the team members selected for the dome project include engineers, a computer scientist, a doctoral candidate and a biomedical expert. They were selected from 700 applicants who were subjected to personality tests, background checks and extensive interviews.

image © University of Hawaii

image © University of Hawaii

The crew will be living in close quarters as the shelter is only 1,200 square feet. It has small sleeping quarters for each member as well as a kitchen, laboratory and bathroom. It is opaque and will not be airtight. With the exception of the quarters not being air tight, the hope is to replicate similar housing conditions that individuals will face on Mars.

image © Discover Magazine

image © Discover Magazine

In a past experiment the crew was given a variety of food to eat that NASA realized wouldn't be plausible on Mars. So this time the participants will eat mostly freeze-dried foods, with some canned goods and snacks brought in. 

image © NASA

image © NASA

The location of the experiment is on rocky terrain that is meant to closely resemble Mars. Since heavy exploration is expected while the humans are on Mars, the participants in this experiment are encouraged to leave the dome but must wear spacesuits whenever they step outside for geological expeditions, mapping studies or other tasks. 


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Source: ABC News

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