Scientists exit Hawaii dome after yearlong Mars simulation

Posted: 4:16 PM, Aug 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-08-28 16:17:57-04
Six scientists emerged from a Mars simulation dome Aug. 28 after a year. (Hi_SEAS/Twitter)

Six scientists emerged from a Mars simulation dome Aug. 28 after a year. (Hi_SEAS/Twitter)

HILO, Hawaii — Six scientists emerged from isolation Saturday after a yearlong Mars simulation in Hawaii.

For the past year, the group has lived in the dome on a Mauna Loa mountain.

They were only allowed to go outside wearing spacesuits.

On Sunday, the simulation ended, and the scientists emerged from their 1200 square foot solar-powered habitat.

Kim Binsted, principal investigator for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, says the researchers are looking forward to getting in the ocean and eating fresh produce and other foods that weren’t available in the dome.

“The longer each mission becomes, the better we can understand the risks of space travel,” Binsted said in 2015 before the mission. “We hope that this upcoming 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.”

NASA funded the study run through the University of Hawaii. Binsted says the simulation was the second-longest of its kind after a mission that lasted 520 days in Russia.

Binsted said the researchers worked to develop “effective team composition” that would allow crews to successfully travel to Mars. It is approximately a three-year trip to Mars and back.

Scientists in the Hawaii simulation managed limited resources while conducting research and working to avoid personal conflicts. Their communication with mission control over a data link had a deliberate 20-minute delay.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.