The big problem with traveling to Mars is not actually getting there. We’ve had that technology for ages. We could even put together a living quarters. But getting home is a nuisance. Most likely the first people there would have to stay for quite a while. It might even be a one way trip, and so we need to know how such an emotional will play on the human mind.
On Friday last week, the newest experiment to test this out got underway. Six scientists left our earthly comforts behind and entered an isolation chamber in a 36-foot-wide and 20-foot-high solar-powered dome in a remote location on the island of Hawaii. The team will have to live for a full year with no contact with the outside world. No email, no Facebook, no tv, nothing. “We hope that this upcoming mission will build on our current understanding of the social and psychological factors involved in long-duration space exploration,” Kim Binsted, principal investigator for HI-SEAS, said in a statement from the University of Hawaii. A sort of scientific Big Brother, maybe?
On previous shorter trips, the crew members were allowed to leave the dome in spacesuits to do experiments, but this time it is purely human emotions under the spotlight. The crew of consists of three women and three men; four American, one French and one German. They have a yearlong supply of food and water. The cuisine, which the team must be able to store for months at a time, is similar to what astronauts eat. They have lab, a kitchen, workspace, dining area, bedrooms and a bathroom. That’s it.
Not my idea of a holiday in paradise.