Above: PISCES’ planetary rover “Helelani” feels right at home in the Mars-like volcanic terrain of Mauna Loa where the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat lives.
The HI-SEAS habitat has resumed studies for human space travel with the launch of a two-week mission that began on Feb. 20. Six crewmembers from around the world are conducting experiments and research intended to support manned missions to the Moon and Mars.
Leading the crew is University of Hawaii at Mānoa’s Michaela Musilova, chief investigator for HI-SEAS and the International Moonbase Alliance (IMA). The team consists of a geologist, anthropologist, journalist, systems engineer and geochemist. During their stay—which ends March 5—crew members will conduct geological and drone surveys, explore lava tubes and test space exploration instruments. They will also run an experiment designed by high school students in Slovakia who won a “Mission to Mars” competition organized by Musilova last year.
Under NASA funding, HI-SEAS has been focused on studying the long-term of effects of human isolation. Since 2012, five long-term studies have been completed—the longest was 12 months.
Now, the habitat’s focus is shifting to shorter-term missions focused toward establishing a human presence on the Moon. Henk Rogers, the habitat’s official owner, is the founder of the International Moonbase Alliance (IMA) envisions a prototype lunar base on Hawaii Island followed by an actual lunar base on the surface of the Moon.
The latest HI-SEAS mission is under the EuroMoonMars initiative, led by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group of the ESA, in partnership with IMA, European Space Research and Technology Centre and Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam.
In a University of Hawaii (UH) news release, Musilova said: “These missions are open to researchers around the world to take part in, provided their research will help contribute to the exploration and colonization of the Moon and Mars.”
Individuals interested in applying to become a crew member or propose a scientific project for future missions should contact Musilova at email@example.com.
Under NASA funding, a sixth HI-SEAS mission was unexpectedly cut short in late February 2018 after an accident prompted one crew member to withdraw over safety concerns. After UH and NASA reviewed the project, it was approved to resume.
NASA awarded a $1 million grant last December to begin detailed analysis of all the data—36 months’ worth gathered since the project began in 2012. The data consists of observations on individual personalities, group dynamics, team cohesion, and cognitive function and behavioral health changes. The analysis is expected to be finished by the end of 2019.