Living on another planet might sound out of this world, but experiments have already started to take place right here, on Earth.
A small group of six people who have been funded by NASA have recently began what is expected to be a one year experiment of living life on Mars. Even though the experiment is taking place in Hawaii, the experiment aims to simulate what life could actually be like on the red planet.
Things we take for granted on a daily basis have been stripped away for the team, as they have to live under strict house rules. They have a limited air supply and let’s say their food may be a little dry. The team have to live under a solar powered dome, which measures approximately 36ft by 20ft tall. Going for a quick breather isn’t as easy as it sounds either. The team must wear a full spacesuit before leaving the dome, as not doing so on the actual planet will most likely cause death.
Oh! And privacy isn’t something they will have a lot of either. Researchers are focusing on the team’s performance by monitoring them with cameras, tracking their body movement, conducting electronic surveys… you get the picture.
The aim of this experiment is to help NASA plan for an actual human mission to Mars, which could sound closer than you think. Unfortunately, a real mission to the fourth planet in our Solar System could last between one and three years, which is an incredibly long time on a planet with only 5 other people.
Professor Kim Binstead, the principle investigator of the project said: ‘The longer each mission becomes, the better we can understand the risks of space travel… We hope that the mission will build on our current understanding of the social and psychological factors involved in long duration space exploration and give NASA solid data on how best to select and support a flight crew that will work cohesively as a team while in space.’
This isn’t the first experiment done in preparation to Mars, as the “HI-SEAS” project has already conducted four and eight-month stays under the dome.
Currently, the fastest spacecraft launched from Earth was NASA’s New Horizon, which just passed Pluto. The closest approach it had to Mars took 942 hours, which is the equivalent of 39 days – just over a month, although that spacecraft wasn’t carrying people, or extra supplies.
The team are well under way with their experiment, which started late last month.
When could we see the first people land on Mars? Could we begin colonize the planet within the next century? Let us know by tweeting @TechFlyOfficial, we’d love to hear your views!