East Hawaii News

‘Earthnauts’ to End Simulated Mars Mission

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It will soon be “touchdown” for six researchers who have spent more than three months in a simulated space expedition.

The six have been taking part in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), a facility established at the 8,000-foot elevation on Mauna Loa.

The researchers have been living and working like astronauts, including suiting up in space-like gear whenever they venture outside the simulated Martian base.

Their focus has been on analyzing new types of food and food preparation strategies to keep astronauts well-nourished for space exploration.

“The food study is designed to simulate the living and working experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and to compare two types of food systems – crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared – as thoroughly as possible in the context of a four-month Mars analog mission,” HI-SEAS officials said in a statement issued today.

“One possible solution to handle menu fatigue would be to allow astronauts to cook their own food instead of eating pre-prepared food day after day,” crew member Angelo Vermeulen said.

This phase of the project, which has included a “Meals for Mars” recipe contest for the public, is scheduled to end Aug. 13, at which time the winning recipes will be featured on the HI-SEAS website.

The six earthnauts taking part in the study were chosen from 700 applicants.

The NASA-funded project has been led by Cornell University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


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