Nasa’s simulated Mars habitat ends after a year – how did it look inside?

A working area is seen inside the Mars Dune Alpha

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The crew for a Nasa mission to Mars has emerged after a year – despite never leaving the planet. 

The team of four volunteers spent more than 12 months inside Nasa’s first simulated Mars environment located at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and emerged on Saturday, July 6, at around 5pm local time. 

Dr Kelly Haston, Dr Anca Selariu, Ross Brockewell and Dr Nathan Jones entered the habitat on June 25 last year, as the maiden crew of the space agency’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) project. 

The space, known as the Mars Dune Alpha, was 3D printed, and simulated a realistic Mars habitat to support long-duration, exploration-class space missions. 

The quartet lived and worked in the space of 1,700 square feet (157 square metres), designed to provide separate areas within the habitat for living and working. The spaces included a kitchen, lounge, areas for medical assessments, recreation, fitness and work, and a food growing station.

Dr Haston, the mission commander, addressed the crowd and greeted them with a simple ‘Hello’. 

‘It’s actually just so wonderful to be able to say “hello” to you all,’ she said.

The working area inside the Mars Dune Alpha (Picture: Reuters)

Could you spend a year sleeping here? (Picture: Reuters)

They may have been on ‘Mars’, but they still had Monopoly… (Picture: Reuters)

The volunteers grew their own vegetables, maintained their own equipment, and participated in ‘Marswalks’, as well as working through challenges and stressors a real Mars crew would be expected to experience, including limited resources, isolation, and delays in communication of up to 22 minutes. 

The 378-day endeavor is the first of three missions the American space agency has planned to test how humans respond to the conditions and challenges of living on Mars, where it hopes to send astronauts as early as the 2030s.

The next CHAPEA mission is scheduled for the spring of 2025, and the third for 2027.

The crew lived and worked in the simulation for a year (Picture: Reuters)

The experiment included ‘Marswalks’ (Picture: Reuters)

This airlock makes things feel official (Picture: Reuters)

Steve Koerner, deputy director of Johnson Space Center, said most of the first crew’s experimentation focused on nutrition and how that affected their performance.

He said the work was ‘crucial science as we prepare to send people on to the red planet’.

‘They’ve been separated from their families, placed on a carefully prescribed meal plan and undergone a lot of observation,’ Mr Koerner said. 

‘Mars is our goal,’ he added, calling the project an important step in America’s intent to be a leader in the global space exploration effort.

Plenty of red dust helped the experiment feel authentic (Picture: Reuters)

The crew grew chili peppers (Picture: Reuters/Nasa)

Exercise is important to maintain body mass in space (Picture: Reuters)
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Source:: Metro


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