NASA crew emerges from year-long simulated Mars mission

NASA crew emerges from year-long simulated Mars mission

NASA crew emerges from year-long simulated Mars mission

A simulated NASA mission to Mars came to an end this week as a four-member team emerged from their craft after a year-long isolation here on Earth.

The four volunteers spent just over 12 months inside NASA’s first-ever simulated Mars environment at Johnson Space Center in Houston. They came out of the isolated habitat Saturday afternoon.

Kelly Haston, Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell, and Nathan Jones began the study on June 25, 2023, as the first crew of NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) project, which hopes to prepare for future Mars missions.

Haston, the mission commander, began the brief welcome ceremony with a simple, “Hello,” according to an Associated Press report. “It’s actually just so wonderful to be able to say ‘hello’ to you all.”

Jones, a physician and the mission medical officer, reflected on their time in confinement. “The 378 days went by quickly,” he said.

Inside the 1,700-square-foot (157-square-meter) habitat, the quartet lived and worked to simulate a mission to Mars. They performed simulated spacewalks, or “Marswalks,” grew and harvested vegetables to supplement their provisions, and maintained the habitat and equipment. The mission aimed to establish conditions for future Mars operations, dealing with challenges such as limited resources, isolation, and communication delays of up to 22 minutes with Earth.

Steve Koerner, deputy director of Johnson Space Center, highlighted the mission’s focus on nutrition and its effects on performance. The work “was crucial science as we prepare to send people on to the red planet,” he said. “They’ve been separated from their families, placed on a carefully prescribed meal plan, and undergone a lot of observation.”

Mission’s end

The mission concluded with a knock on the habitat’s door by Kjell Lindgren, an astronaut and deputy director of flight operations. The four volunteers emerged, expressing gratitude for each other and those who supported them. They shared insights about a prospective manned mission to Mars and life on Earth.

Brockwell emphasized the importance of sustainability: “I’m very grateful to have had this incredible opportunity to live for a year within the spirit of planetary adventure towards an exciting future, and I’m grateful for the chance to live the idea that we must utilize resources no faster than they can be replenished and produce waste no faster than they can be processed back into resources,” he said.

“We cannot live, dream, create, or explore on any significant timeframe if we don’t live these principles. But if we do, we can achieve and sustain amazing and inspiring things like exploring other worlds,” he added.

Science officer Anca Selariu addressed the fixation on Mars. “Why go to Mars? Because it’s possible,” she said. “Because space can unite and bring out the best in us. It’s one defining step that ‘Earthlings’ will take to light the way into the next centuries.”

Source: Interesting Engineering

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NASA crew emerges from year-long simulated Mars mission

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