One year ago today, six scientists from around the world began a space mission in a geodesic dome on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano as part of the University of Hawaii’s, Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS program. The scientists spent every second of the last year either inside the 1,200-square-foot, solar powered structure or inside an extremely cumbersome spacesuit as they gathered information about what it might be like on Mars. (Which, by the way, conveniently looks quite a bit like the Mauna Loa volcano.)
According to BuzzFeed, the six scientists include Carmel Johnston, Christiane Heinicke, Sheyna E. Gifford, Andrzej Steward, Cyprien Verseux and Tristan Bassingthwaighte. These six individuals were responsible for learning about challenges that actual astronauts might face on Mars — related to resource management, growing food, and communication. NPR reported that the occupations of the six scientists include a NASA physician, a hydrologist from Montana, an MIT-trained engineer and pilot, a French astrobiologist and an architecture student from Tongji University in Shanghai. So…super smart people.
To simulate real conditions on Mars, the six scientists experienced 20-minute delays in communication when emailing. They also experienced serious boredom according to Heinicke who told NPR, “Bring something to work on. Something meaningful to work on. One of your biggest enemies is boredom.” You know, they do say only boring people get bored (or geniuses spending a year in a geodesic dome).
Heinicke also seemed a little salty about her fellow scientists, saying, “The other big enemies, of course, are the rest of the crew.” Damn, don’t get us wrong, a year in a tiny space with only five other people is a lot to take on, but calling them enemies? We suppose there are worse things she could have called them.