Learning to Live on Mars… on Mauna Loa

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Mauna Loa Mars practice.

HI-SEAS image.

Brian Shrio, geology lead at HI-SEAS, will discuss how Mauna Loa plays an important role in the quest to make human life possible on Mars at ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Maunakea Skies talk on Friday, March 17, 2017, at 7 p.m.

Tucked away on the northern flank of Mauna Loa overlooking Maunakea is a white domed structure where NASA is studying what it takes to live on the Red Planet.

This is the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program, which is aimed at researching issues related to how crews will function on long-duration missions to Mars.

HI-SEAS creates missions and recruits crew members who live in the Mars-like habitat for periods ranging from four to 12 months, in order to better understand the planet’s living conditions.

During HI-SEAS missions, some of the crew’s activities require them to leave the habitat and conduct extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) while wearing simulated space suits to approximate the encumbrances astronauts would face while exploring the surface of Mars.


This helps to identify and test best practices for future field explorations on the surface of Mars.

Funded by NASA, these missions also include supervision by a remote support team via an imposed 40-minute round trip communications delay, replicating real-life Mars-like communication conditions.

Shiro will take you through the day-to-day life of a HI-SEAS mission and what it’s like learning to live on Mars.

Brian Shrio, geology lead at HI-SEAS. HI-SEAS courtesy photo.

As a collaborator on this project since 2012, Shiro leads the development, assignment and evaluation of geological field tasks given to the HI-SEAS crews to gauge their team performance under realistic mission constraints.

Shrio has experience in over a dozen field expeditions from the Arctic to the Antarctic and many tropical destinations in-between. He spent over 60 days aboard research vessels mapping the seafloor and served on two simulated Mars mission crews in Canada and Utah.


He received his B.A. in integrated science, geology and physics from Northwestern University, an M.A. in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University and an M.S. in space studies from the University of North Dakota.

He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, where he applies geophysical exploration techniques to study lava tubes, seamounts and subsurface resources that could support life on other planets.

Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy,‘ Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i. The audience will be able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center will present Brian Shrio, geology lead at HI-SEAS, as part of its monthly Maunakea Skies program on Friday, March 17, at 7 p.m.

Maunakea Skies planetarium presentations are held on the third Friday of each month.


General admission tickets are $10; $8 for members (member level discounts apply).

Pre-purchase tickets at ‘Imiloa’s front desk or by phone at 808-932-8901.

About ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center

The ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class center for informal science education located on the University of Hawai‘i campus. Its centerpiece is a 12,000-square-foot. exhibit hall showcasing astronomy and Hawaiian culture as parallel journeys of human exploration guided by the light of the stars. The visitor experience is amplified with programming using ‘Imiloa’s 3D full dome planetarium and 9 acres of native landscape gardens. The center welcomes approximately 100,000 visitors each year, including over 10,000 schoolchildren on guided field trips and other educational programs.

‘Imiloa is located at 600 ‘Imiloa Place in Hilo, off of Komohana and Nowelo Streets at the UH Hilo Science and Technology Park.

For more information, visit or call (808) 932-8901.


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