(L to R): PISCES interns Kylie Higaki and Chanelle Mattheus, HI-SEAS Principal Investigator Kim Binsted, and PISCES Geology Tech Kyla Defore outside HI-SEAS.

The PISCES Materials Science team jump started their summer work last month with a field visit to the HI-SEAS Mars simulation habitat on Mauna Loa volcano.

Kim Binsted, Principle Investigator for HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) and a professor at University of Hawaii at Manoa, led the team on a brief tour inside the dome-shaped facility before hiking surrounding around the surrounding terrain.

IMG_1171HI-SEAS is a NASA-funded project managed by UH Manoa to study the long-term effects of human isolation in preparation for long-duration space missions. So far, five teams have completed missions in the small dome, the longest being 12 months.

The dome lives at roughly 8,000 feet on the lower slopes of Mauna Loa amid a desolate field of jagged, reddish lava rock. For all intents and purposes, the area looks like Mars. But it also has a similar chemical make-up, which makes the area ideal for learning about both Hawaii and Martian geology.

While exploring and taking notes, PISCES Interns Kylie Higaki and Chanelle Mattheus collected rock and dust samples from a massive fissure burrowed above the habitat. The pair also followed PISCES geology technician Kyla Defore on a scouting mission in search of lava tubes. Using GPS coordinates, they found a tube that will be included in a hike during the Women’s STARS Program later this month. The STARS students will learn about how tubes can provide shelter for astronauts on other planets.