Mock Mars Mission Takes Six More 'Astronauts' to the Red Planet on Hawaii

First Posted: Aug 13, 2015 10:39 AM EDT

Imagine living on a colony on Mars. Now, imagine if you could do that right now--on Earth. That's exactly what several volunteers did during a mock Mars space mission, located in a Mars-like habitat in Hawaii.

On June 13, the last "Mars mission" ended. For the first time in eight months, volunteers stepped out into the world without the use of a spacesuit.

"When we walked out of the hab[itat], it was a shock to see the world so clearly, to feel things that our senses haven't been able to feel," said Jocelyn Dunn, the mission's science officer, in an interview with "And trying all the new foods-not new foods, but uniting with the foods from Earth-and lately, I realized my senses were still dull. Inside a small, confined space, you always know what's going on. You don't need heightened awareness."

Now, though, the mission will continue with six new volunteers who will enter the mock Mars base starting on Aug. 28.

So why create this mission in the first place? Researchers want to look at the social and psychological factors involved in long duration space exploration. This will give NASA solid data on how best to select and support a flight crew.

This particular effort isn't surprising. NASA and other space agencies have been considering long-term space missions for a while now. Part of preparing for these missions is understanding what astronauts may have to go through while in space both in terms of their physical and mental health.

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