The NASA-funded Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) experiment has started on Earth, designed to simulate a Mars mission.
The six participants, three men and three women, are scientists - and will be in tight quarters, living inside a 36-foot-wide dome that is 20-feet high. The project began on Friday and will last 365 days. Researchers will collect information regarding cognitive, social and emotional factors between each participant - and how they interact with one another.
NASA believes a mission to Mars could take more than three years to complete, so this is an important step to gather data.
"The HI-SEAS site presents a remarkably high-fidelity environment for this type of long-duration space study," said Kim Binsted, principal investigator of the UH Manoa project, in a previous press statement. "Looking out the single porthole window, all you can see are lava fields and Maunakea in the distance. Once the door is closed, and the faux airlock sealed, the silence and physical separation contribute to the 'long way from home' experience of our crew members."