The crew of HI-SEAS IV (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation mission #4) consisted of six people who wanted to change the world by making it possible for people to leave it at will. The group contained a field biologist, a fluid physicist (water is life!), an astrobiologist, a space craft engineer, a medical doctor/journalist/neuroscientist and a space architect. We lived together in a 1,200 square foot dome at 8,200 feet above sea level on the barren slopes of the Mauna Loa volcano from August 28th, 2015 to August 28th, 2016.
About our mission in brief:
- It was the longest space simulation of any kind in NASA’s history.
- There were 3 studies prior to ours in the same space, so to speak: Mission I was a 4-month food study. Missions II and III were 4 and 8-month psychological studies of crew cohesion.
- It was an analog in the sense that we lived in the dome with only each other, seeing no other humans in person for a year; ate shelf-stable foods; only left the dome in space suits; and experienced a 20-minute communication delay. This precluded making phone calls, skype calls, and surfing the internet.
- The crew was still able to receive and send data in a delayed fashion, as a real Mars crew would via the deep space network.
- The study was funded by NASA, but run by the University of Hawai’i.
- While we were supported by dozens of volunteers stationed in various place on Earth, mission control, as such, has no central location.
- We had air pressure consistent with living at 8,200 feet about sea level (think airplane cabin) and full gravity (9.8 m/s^2).
- Owing to the fact that no such list exists, none of us are “on the list” to go to Mars. The first NASA Mars expeditions are anticipated to take place in the 2030’s.
- Two kinds of research took place. NASA’s funded research was psychological. The crew were subjects in that research, and, as such, is not privy to the results. The crew themselves studied many things, from sleep to caffeine consumption to plant growth to spacesuit design. Feel free to ask us all about it!