Above: PISCES Geologist Kyla Edison explores technologies that could make Mars a more affordable destination for future explorers at the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center planetarium in Hilo.

How do you inhabit a hostile, hazardous environment without breathable air or drinking water? And how do you do it without bringing an entire house with you? These questions were the focus of a talk given by PISCES geologist Kyla Edison on Nov. 16 as part of the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center’s Maunakea Skies talk series.

In “Living Off the Martian Land: Solutions for Colonizing Mars,” Kyla explored how costly space travel can be, and how PISCES is researching viable solutions to help establish a permanent human presence on places like Mars. In particular, she highlighted the resources people can extract from Mars’ seemingly barren surface: oxygen, water, rocket propellant and construction materials for shelter. She also cited NASA’s cost estimate for a human mission to Mars: upwards of $100 billion (including a spacecraft, water, food, habitation, filters, and life support systems).

Kyla also demonstrated the similar chemical properties between Hawaiʻi’s basalt and Mars regolith, and how Hawaiʻi’s volcanic landscapes provide valuable testing grounds for space exploration missions.