Monday, July 15, 2024

‘Are you ready to go out?’: Scientists return after a year on Mars

Must read

Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

Four scientists on Saturday completed a 378-day mission in Martian conditions for NASA in Houston, USA, to better prepare for a possible human settlement on the Red Planet.

A NASA astronaut knocks three times on a seemingly ordinary door. “Ready to go out?” he asks cheerfully.

The response from inside is inaudible. Under his mask, he seems to be smiling as he opens the door in a flash. Four scientists emerge amid cheers.

Anca Celario, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and team leader Kelly Haston spent 378 days confined to a “Martian habitat” in Houston, Texas, as part of a NASA study.

All the while, they were growing vegetables, walking on red sand, and working under “additional stresses” including isolation, confinement, and slow contact with “the land” and their families.

The four researchers, somewhat disheveled, returned outside with undisguised amusement.

“Good morning,” smiles Kelly Haston, a biologist by trade. “In fact, it’s really nice to be able to say hello.”

“I hope I don’t cry here in front of you,” says Nathan Jones, an emergency room physician, as he grabs the microphone. Wishful thinking, because moments later he cried when he saw his wife in the crowd cheering his team.

Mr Jones and his companions will have lived for more than a year in “Mars Dune Alpha,” a 160-square-metre structure built by 3D printers with bedrooms, a gym, common areas and even a vertical farm to grow their own food.

In another area separated from the habitat by an airlock and covered in red sand, scientists conducted their “Mars tours.”

The team spent its entire mission “conducting important scientific research, based primarily on nutrition, and determining its effects on their performance.” […] “As we prepare to send humans to the Red Planet,” said Steve Koerner, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

“I am very grateful,” he added.

This was the first of three missions under NASA’s Analogue Exploration of Crew Health and Performance.

Another mission to simulate life on Mars had already taken place between 2015 and 2016 in a habitat in Hawaii, lasting one year, but despite NASA’s participation, it was not in control.

As part of the Artemis program, Washington plans to return humans to the moon to better understand how to live away from Earth in the long term, thus preparing for a trip to Mars that could take place in the late 2030s.

To watch on video

Latest article