Sunday, Oct 01, 2023

Canadian Scientist Set to Simulate a Year on Mars in Groundbreaking NASA Experiment

Canadian Scientist Set to Simulate a Year on Mars in Groundbreaking NASA Experiment

Kelly Haston, a Canadian biologist, never dreamed of living on Mars as a child, but soon she will be spending an entire year preparing for the experience.
Beginning at the end of June, Haston and three other volunteers will inhabit a Mars simulation habitat in Houston, Texas, for the upcoming 12 months.

"We are just going to pretend that we're there," the 52-year-old explained to AFP about the upcoming experiment.

Despite the surreal nature of the project, Haston acknowledged the gravity of her role in it.

"I'm very excited about this, but I'm also realistic about what the challenge is," she said.

The experiment is part of NASA's ongoing efforts to understand the impacts of long-term space travel and isolation on crew members.

The participants will experience simulated equipment failures, water shortages, and unanticipated "surprises" as part of their Martian habitat experience.

The 3D printed Martian habitat, named Mars Dune Alpha, spans 1,700 square feet and includes bedrooms, a gym, communal areas, and a vertical farm.

Haston, who had the chance to visit the facility last year, described it as "surprisingly spacious."

The crew will also have access to an outdoor area filled with red sand, mimicking Mars' surface.

Here they will conduct simulated spacewalks, an activity Haston is eagerly anticipating.

Haston, a permanent US resident, was quick to apply for the program when she learned about the opportunity.

She sees her participation as a chance to explore new aspects of science and contribute to a study that could advance space exploration.

Joining her for the mission are an engineer, an emergency doctor, and a nurse.

Although they were strangers before the selection process, Haston says they have already formed a close bond.

As the group's commander, Haston is excited to watch these relationships evolve.

Despite the importance of their simulated mission, the crew's ability to cooperate on everyday tasks like cleaning and cooking will be crucial.

In preparation for the mission, the team will undergo a month of training in Houston.

Although procedures are in place to handle a range of potential issues, Haston admits her main concern is managing the distance from her family.

To cope, she plans to draw on previous experiences, like a research expedition in Africa, where she faced isolation and unpredictable conditions.

"These are feelings that are very familiar to me," she reflected.

The upcoming simulation is the first of three planned by NASA as part of the CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) series.

The ultimate goal is to prepare humans for long-term stays on the Moon and, eventually, Mars.

The mission's success will serve as a crucial stepping stone towards this ambitious objective..

Oh ya 126 days ago
Maybe they should first pretend how they are going to come out the other side of the Van Allan radiation belt alive. You know the same belt that has stopped man from ever walking on the moon.


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