The dome where six scientists lived an isolated existence to simulate life on a mission to Mars, on the bleak slopes of dormant volcano Mauna Loa near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Neil Scheibelhut—AP
By Jacob Koffler
June 15, 2015

Six scientists tasked with simulating life on Mars emerged on Saturday after eight months living under a dome located 8,000 feet above sea level in a dormant Hawaii volcano.

The six were part of a human performance study funded by NASA and had not left the dome without a spacesuit on since entering the study almost a year ago. Operating in complete isolation, the scientists were monitored by surveillance cameras, body-movement trackers and electronic surveys to track how they worked as a team.

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“Astronauts are very stoic people, very level-headed, and there’s a certain hesitancy to report problems,” University of Hawaii professor Kim Binsted, principal investigator for the study, told the AP. “So this is a way for people on the ground to detect cohesion-related problems before they become a real issue.”

To release stress, the crew members could use a treadmill or stationary bike–only on sunny afternoons, however, because both were solar powered. Their diet consisted mainly of freeze-dried chili.

Mauna Loa was a prime site for the study because of its terrain and silence. When looking out the dome’s porthole windows, the scientists could only see lava fields and mountains.

[AP]

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