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Scientists simulating Mars mission can't wait for isolation to be over

The volunteers have been living on freeze-dried food and trying to avoid personal conflicts.

The Gemini Telescope and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope are shown on Hawaii's Mauna Kea.
The Gemini Telescope and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope are shown on Hawaii's Mauna Kea.
Image: Associated Press Photo/Caleb Jones

SIX SCIENTISTS ARE close to wrapping up a year of near isolation in a Mars simulation on a Hawaii mountain.

The scientists are housed in a dome on Mauna Loa and can go outside only in spacesuits, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald has reported.

They manage limited resources while conducting research and working to avoid personal conflicts.

Communication is delayed by 20 minutes, the length it would take to relay messages from Mars.

Second-longest simulation

Kim Binsted, principal investigator for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, said this simulation was the second-longest of its kind after a mission that lasted 520 days in Russia.

“They’re doing okay as far as we can tell,” Binsted said of the scientists.

Previous simulations in the Mauna Loa dome have lasted four to eight months.

Mauna Loa soil is similar to what would be found on Mars. The area’s high elevation means almost no plant growth.

Nasa funded the study through the University of Hawaii.

The scientists will have access to fresh produce and other foods not available to them in the dome when the simulation ends on August 28.

“They are clamouring to get into the ocean,” Binsted said.

I think they will enjoy having a beer as well.

An eight-month simulation starts in January.

Read: Mars Orbiter photos > 

Read: NASA wants to mine the moon – with a little help from Taipei >

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