Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, has long captured the interest of humans. Although mankind has still yet to step foot on the Red Planet, the goal is to one day do just that. Another goal is to learn more about whether Mars may have once been able to support life.
In October, in an op-ed for CNN, outgoing President Barack Obama announced a goal to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. NASA has said that the plan is to send humans to Mars at around this time as well. Many are also interested to see what NASA will look like under President-elect Donald Trump. SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, who has been open about his big dreams of having humans one day live on Mars, has already met with the soon-to-be-president on at least one occasion, according to the Washington Post.
NASA study in Hawaii paving way for human travel to Mars https://t.co/IE4hsjpP1A pic.twitter.com/SAUYTwXU3P
— WLOX (@WLOX) January 19, 2017
According to Caleb Jones of the Associated Press, a new study that is being conducted in Hawaii is helping to prepare humans for the journey to Mars. Per the report, a team of “NASA-funded researchers” will be moving into an “isolated geodesic dome on a remote Hawaii volcano” on Thursday, January 19. The team will stay there from now until the beginning of fall, with the study said to be lasting for a total of eight months.
The goal of the study is to look at patterns of “human behavior” during “long-term space exploration,” such as going to Mars, per the Associated Press. Although a manned mission to Mars is still well over a decade away at the earliest, now is the time to study the type of impact it would have on the astronauts who will be making the brave and daring journey.
The team, which consists of a total of six scientists, will be examined to see what “psychological difficulties” may come along with living in seclusion while also being a long way from home, per the Associated Press. To simulate the conditions of living on Mars, the scientists will be required to wear spacesuits whenever they leave the dome, and they won’t be allowed to have “physical human contact” with any person from “the outside world.”
Like they would on a trip to Mars, the scientists will pack their food ahead of time. They will get their sustenance primarily from “freeze-dried goods” and a certain amount of “canned food” as well, according to the Associated Press. The scientists will also have to work with “a 20-minute delay in communications,” mirroring the amount of time it would take for a signal and a message to get from Earth to the Red Planet in real life.
In the statement from the Association Press, Kim Binstead, a University of Hawaii science professor and principal investigator, further addressed the objective of the study.
“We’re hoping to figure out how best to select individual astronauts, how to compose a crew and how to support that crew on long-duration space missions,” Binstead told the Associated Press. “[The purpose of the study is to] reduce the barriers to a human journey to Mars.”
— K-LOVE News (@KLOVEnews) January 19, 2017
Per the Associated Press, the team appears to have been hand-picked from a collection of “700 applicants,” all of whom had a familiarity with the field of “space science.” Serving as mission commander for the Mars simulation will be James Bevington.
“Leading the crew is mission commander James Bevington, a freelance space researcher who has acted as a visiting researcher for the International Space University and a consultant at Northwestern University.”
According to the Associated Press, the area in which the study is taking place is known as the University of Hawaii-run “Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS).” On HI-SEAS’ website, the area is described as an “isolated habitat” with “Mars-like geology.”
According to Space.com, which calls this a “mock Mars mission,” it is the fifth study of its type to be carried out by the NASA-funded HI-SEAS. The Inquisitr previously reported on HI-SEAS and past studies on Hawaii that were done to prepare humans for future Mars expeditions as well. While human visitation to Mars is still a ways down the road, rovers and orbiters have been giving scientists an opportunity to learn about the Red Planet for quite a while now.
NASA currently has two rovers on the red planet in Opportunity and Curiosity. As Seattle Pi describes, Opportunity and Curiosity have been on Mars since 2004 and 2012, respectively.
[Featured Image by NASA/Getty Images]