NASA Prepares For Mars With Year-Long Simulation In Hawaii

Six members of a NASA team recently began the agency's longest-ever simulation of a mission to Mars.

Six members of a NASA team recently began the agency's longest-ever simulation of a mission to Mars.

A French microbiologist, a German physicist and four Americans — a pilot, architect, reporter and soil scientist — on Friday sealed themselves inside a 36 foot by 20 foot circular dome on the northern slope of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa.

They will remain inside for one year and will only journey outside its walls when equipped with a spacesuit.

Although Hawaii likely isn't the first place most would think of when picturing the Martian surface, the dome is located inside a remote abandoned quarry at an elevation of about 8,000 feet.

The simulation will present the participants with the same inconveniences they would face on Mars -- recycled oxygen, canned food and almost no privacy.

NASA officials also said that it would also test the ability to address the interpersonal conflicts certain to arise over the course of a lonely year millions of miles from home.

"It is going to happen over these long duration missions, even with the very best people," NASA's Kim Binsted told the BBC.

The latest test is the third and final one scheduled to be undertaken by the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation; the first two lasted for four months and eight months, respectively.

NASA hopes to send a manned mission to the planet in the 2030s.

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