Nasa-funded project puts 6 recruits in a large dome for 12 months to simulate life on Mars

The team will have to survive without fresh air and fresh food

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The Independent Online

What do you get when you put four Americans, a French astrobiologist and a German physicist in a dome with a diameter of just 36 feet? A simulation of life on Mars, apparently.

Six recruits have began the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission. They will live in the dome, located on barren land in Hawaii, for the next 12 months. Previous HI-SEAS missions have lasted four months and eight months respectively.

The Nasa-funded project will allow the organisation to plan for a human mission to the Red Planet, which is expected to take between one and three years.

The team will have to survive without fresh air and fresh food. Their diet will include powdered cheese and canned tuna and they will only have a small sleeping cot and desk inside their room.

By giving the team very little privacy, the isolation experiment is aimed at better understanding the social and psychological effects of travelling in space for great lengths of time.

But living in such close quarters meant “interpersonal conflicts” were inevitable, Kim Binsted, a professor at the University of Hawaii, told AFP.

“It is going to happen over these long-duration missions, even with the very best people”, she said.