There’s still more than enough science to figure out in regard to how we’ll successfully make it to Mars, and survive once we get there. But some scientists are working to make sure we don’t kill each other on the way.
A NASA-funded study is set to crank up soon, and will trap assign six volunteer “astronauts” to a faux Mars base in Hawaii for a full year to see how they handle working together in tight quarters for such an extended amount of time. The mission is the culmination of a previous four-month and eight-month mission at the same site. The study will be held at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS).
Kim Binsted, HI-SEAS principal investigator and a professor at University of Hawaii at Mānoa, had this to say about the mission goals:
“The longer each mission becomes, the better we can understand the risks of space travel. We hope that this upcoming mission will build on our current understanding of the social and psychological factors involved in long duration space exploration and give NASA solid data on how best to select and support a flight crew that will work cohesively as a team while in space.”
These folks will spend all their time in the habitat, and any time they go outside, they’ll have to wear faux spacesuits. Though it seems almost insane to give up a full year of your life to perform fake tests and handle fake crises on a fake base station in Hawaii, these brave volunteers will almost certainly provide valuable data that could come in handy once NASA starts putting together a team for the Red Planet.
Considering a Mars mission will certainly be the longest, and most challenging, human journey in history, figuring out a way to make sure everyone can get along will be a major part of the equation. The last thing we need is a case of space madness that far from Earth.
Godspeed, fake astronauts.