Practicing life on Mars, on a Hawaiian volcano


So, they will be the only ones left after the plague spreads


Hope the engineers designing the rockets, space ships, space stations, payloads, suits, arms, etc for Mars are getting what Gene Kranz termed, the ‘Human Factor’.

Without it simulations with astronauts are a waste. They will die on mission.

We don’t need to let the lessons of Gus Grissom-Ed White-Roger Chaffee be repeated.

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Man, some people have really cool jobs.


They’re “returning to earth” today.

Except tonight, on the slopes of Mauna Loa, they see a quaintly old-fashioned town, populated by their long-dead loved ones…


Cosplay taken to the next level.


Most of the time simulation is different in reality.

I applied to be a part of this (Maggie here at BB suggested it to me actually) and made it to the final round of applicants! They didn’t choose me, but one of the researchers e-mailed me when they were preparing signups for a second simulated mission suggesting I should apply again. I didn’t think I’d be available, so I’m bummed I missed the opportunity.

Participants did get a (small) stipend for their troubles but it’s not a “job” as another commenter put it, it’s basically a volunteer/internship type thing… you had to be able to be unemployed for the whole time, with no worry about that causing a problem with paying your bills or whatever, and be in a position where hopefully this looks good on your resume. Limits the pool basically to unemployed academics (whose families can support them financially) planning to go to but not yet in grad school who are passionate about space exploration and stuff (#gpoy).

Anyway, part of the application process was to design an individual project you’d complete, in addition to the various things involved with the actual experiment. I did some research on tools and equipment used on Apollo missions on the moon, and my project was going to be expanding on and improving them for use in scientific exploration of Mars. I’m not an engineer so I didn’t expect anything I designed would ever actually get used, but I am a geologist with a lot of experience using equipment in the field, and with bulky space suits there are a lot of geology things you can’t do (and which the Apollo astronauts couldn’t do on the moon) so I thought it’d be fun and useful to think about those sorts of problems.


I always suspect that whatever data is collected on “the human element/isolation/etc…” is going to be a bit skewed by these researchers truly understanding that if the shit hit the fan, that. ultimately, they could just walk out that (loosely fitted looking) door flap into fresh breathable air, and hitch a ride to civilization. Knowing that it’s all a play has to tone down the stress level and perceived finality of a situation, at least compared to the “real thing” where a suit mishap, a failure to close a door properly, or any one of a number of other simple mistakes could mean the end, and there’s no potential to give up and go home.

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That could certainly be the case–that the subjects don’t necessarily feel the strain of living off-world and therefore maybe they don’t exhibit some symptoms that would otherwise be harmful in an off-world situation. That said, they’re still doing valuable research that will benefit the community in a number of ways, whether it’s suit design that can stand up to the rigors of a working, long-term environment, or the stresses of living in a small habitat at distinctly close quarters for long periods of time. There’s only so much research information we can get out of our only off-world location at the moment, so it makes sense to study conditions on the ground as best as can be done.

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