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What It Could Be Like to Live on Mars

What It Could Be Like to Live on Mars WIRED


What It Could Be Like to Live on MarsBY KATE GREENE   10.21.14  |   6:30 AM  |   PERMALINKShare on Facebook409




I'd always wanted to visit Mars. Instead I got Hawaii. There, about 8,200 feet above sea level on Mauna Loa, sits a geodesically domed habitat for testing crew psychology and technologies for boldly going. I did a four-month tour at the NASA-funded HI-SEAS—that's Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation—in 2013, and a new 8-month mission is scheduled to start in October. It's a long time to be cooped up, “so the psychological impacts are extremely important,” habitat designer Vincent Paul Ponthieux says. The key to keeping everybody sane? A sense of airiness. Yep—even on Mars, you're going to need more space.

Power System | Solar panels supply power and charge the batteries for the habitat. If juice levels fall below 5 percent, a hydrogen fuel cell kicks in.

Workshop & Airlock | Crew can use the 3-D printer to make hair clips, replacement parts, and anything else they forgot back on Earth. This area is also the door to the surface; they simulate depressurization and pressurization before and after sorties.

Composting Toilets | Repurposed poop (sans pathogens) from one mission might be plant food for the next one.

Bedrooms | Six pie-slice-shaped staterooms each contain a mattress, a desk, and a stool. Clothing goes under the bed, which sits at the wide side of the slice. Cozy like a closet.

Workout Area | Everyone exercises in shifts, often to videos like P90X and Insanity. Other workouts: juggling and balloon volleyball.

Communications | Mars is up to 24 minutes away as the photon flies, so crews have NASA-issued email addresses with an artificial delay and access to a web made of cached, nondynamic pages.

High Ceilings | The 36-foot-diameter dome has a living area of about 1,000 square feet, and the second level is a loftlike partial floor. To long-term inhabitants, these spaces appear to shrink over time, so high ceilings are crucial.

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Hawaii sounds a lot more hospitable than Mars.

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