We might not have humans on Mars just yet, but six scientists camped out on top of a volcano in Hawaii the past four months have gotten us one step closer to figuring out what it’ll be like.
The crew of the second Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation (HI-SEAS 2) mission spent the past four months living and working in a simulated Mars environment and finally came out from their mock mission on Friday, June 25. The goal of the mission was to help NASA gain a better understanding of what it’ll be like once we eventually live on the Red Planet.
While on the simulated mission, the crew bunked and worked in a two-story, 36-foot-wide solar-powered dome stationed on the slopes of the shield volcano Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii. As Space reports, the team only left the habitat for “Mars walks” sporting mock spacesuits to explore the martian-esque environment of Mauna Loa, which lies 8,000 feet above sea level.
A big part of the experiment was looking at ways to improve the parameters of a Mars walk and the design of the spacesuits we’ll eventually use there, as well as test out the effective difference between standard and 3D-printed tools. The crew also had a chance to work, conduct experiments and go through the routine that future astronauts will follow in the years to come.
They even had a chance to work through some kinks and challenges during the mission, as the crew had to troubleshoot everything from equipment problems to supply issues, all of which could provide invaluable hands-on experience for NASA. Here’s how mission commander Casey Stedman explained it all:
“In the last 60 days, the crew and I have faced power system failures, water shortages, illness, fatigue, electrical fluctuations, spacesuit leaks, medical emergencies, network dropouts, storms, habitat leaks, and numerous equipment failures … How the crew responds to each crisis will help future mission planners devise new techniques to mitigate risks and better prepare astronauts for the challenges of long duration missions.”
When the team finally left their habitat at the end of the four-month adventure, they broadcast the entire experience via Google Hangout. Check out the archived footage below:
Considering it’ll likely be at least another decade until we make it to Mars, here’s hoping they can get as much figured out as possible here on good ol’ planet Earth.