‘Mars’ mission simulates research on far off worlds — in Hawaii

Space Science
Analog Mars Mission

(Image credit: SENSORIA Program)

MYSTERY WIRE — A crew of six women have completed the first half of a mission that simulates exploring Mars.

Except they are in Hawaii. To be precise, they are on Mauna Loa on the Big Island. It’s the largest volcano in the world, and the terrain provides a unique setting for research.

In what is known as an “analog” mission, the six researchers explore and perform research as if they were in space. An article on Space.com says the work “generates important scientifc data and informs space agencies about what it might be like to step foot on those far-off surfaces.”

The “Sensoria I” mission marks the beginning of the Sensoria project, which emphasizes roles for women in science. The project’s missions will be led by women, and the majority of the teams will be female.

Among the research tasks that are performed:

  • Testing equipment used on space missions
  • Microbial research
  • Communications tests
  • Tests of food products

The crew will be involved in translating experiences in the isolated environment to other conditions, whether as they apply to space or “normal” living conditions.

Meet the crew

Follow updates about Sensoria on Facebook as the mission nears completion on Jan. 18.

Erin Bonilla, vice commander and medical officer, posted this message as the mission began:

A look from Makia Eustice, Habitat Operations Officer and Aerospace Engineer, at the rugged terrain that will be explored.

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