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Spending a Year on Mars …Sort Of

A crew of six volunteer scientists spent an entire year isolated in a tent on small section of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano to simulate what life would be like on Mars. They were part of the Hawaii Space Exploration and Analog and Simulation project, called HI-SEAS for short. The 365-day simulation ended Sunday, and the crew was allowed to come outside without a space suit for the first time in a year. Although they have been in contact with "earth" by internet, any messages were delayed by 20 minutes to simulate such communication on Mars. The experiment is about how humans would react under isolation from the outside world, and how they got along with crewmates in cramped conditions. Sheyna Gifford and Tristan Bassingthwaighte talked about their experiences.

Counting down to their so-called “re-entry,” the crew had their sights set on everyday things we Earthlings take for granted ― hugging loved ones, feasting on a burger, swimming in the ocean and running on grass.

In addition to spending time with family and getting outside, Bassingthwaighte’s said he’s looking forward to living in a place with a window.

“I mean holy crap! A whole window that belongs just to me?” he wrote. “I don’t even know what to do with that, we’ve all been sharing a window the size of a medium pizza for the last year.”

In her time away, Gifford said she’s come to realize that the journey to Mars will likely prove more challenging in ways we don’t expect than in ways we do. The good news, she said, is “human beings are pretty much capable of anything.”

Read more about the simulation at HuffPo.

(Image credit: Flickr user University of Hawai‘i News)

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