After spending eight months simulating life on Mars on the slopes of a remote Hawaii volcano, six NASA-backed research subjects emerged from their habitat on Sunday.
This was the fifth mock Mars mission of the NASA-funded HI-SEAS program (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation). The crew are part of a study designed to better understand the psychological impacts a long-term space mission would have on astronauts.
Each participant in the study wore sensors that measured voice levels and proximity to other people in the habitat. The sensors could sense if people were avoiding one another or socializing normally.
During the mission, four men and two women lived in isolation from the rest of planet, eating only stored foods and lab-grown vegetables. When communicating with the outside world, they had to deal with a realistic 20-minute delay. Most importantly, space suits were worn outside at all times.
The next 8-month mission, HI-SEAS VI, is scheduled to begin in 2018.