Six scientists have entered the dome located over the volcano in Hawaii, where they will spend the next eight months to simulate the isolated life of astronauts traveling to Mars, said the University of Hawaii.
This research is designed to help NASA better understand human behavior and performance during long space missions, while the US space agency is exploring plans for a manned mission to the Red Planet.
“I am proud of our role in helping to reduce the barriers to human travel to Mars,” said Kim Binsted, a principal researcher of the mission.
The crew will do the job of field geology and basic tasks every day over 365 meters located in an abandoned mine at 8,000 ft (2.5 km) above sea level on Mount Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawaii.
There is little vegetation and scientists have no contact with the outside world, said the University, which operates the dome.
Communication with mission control team will be delayed to coincide with the travel time of 20 minutes from the radio waves that passes between the Earth and Mars.
“The daily routine includes food preparation of stable materials in stock, sports, research, and field work in accordance with the expectations of NASA’S planetary exploration,” said the University.
This project aims to create guidelines for future missions to Mars, about 35 million miles (56 million kilometers) away, the long-term goal of the U.S. human space program.
NASA-funded research, known as Space Exploration and simulation analysis of the Hawaii (HI-SEAS), is the fifth of its kind.