BY: ZOE MELNYK
For the next year, these six NASA recruits are living in a cramped dome with very little privacy, no fresh food, and no fresh air all for the sake of science. They will be simulating life on Mars and studying human interactions during such extreme circumstances.
These six brave individuals sealed their fate Friday, August 28, when the doors to their tiny dome-home closed and the social experiment officially began. The dome atmosphere is meant to replicate potential life on Mars, with very limited space and resources readily available.
While most experiments pertaining to life in space focus on the mechanics and science behind space travel, this examination is centred on human interaction in isolated quarters for an extended period of time. Living in such an intense environment while being deprived of natural human desires will inevitably create conflict between the recruits. The real test begins when tensions arise between the crew and they are forced to resolve their issues.
For one full year six NASA recruits are living in a cramped dome with very little privacy, no fresh food, and no fresh air to simulate life on Mars.
Kim Binsted, NASA investigator, explained in an interview with BBC that these issues are natural. “I think one of the lessons is that you really can’t prevent interpersonal conflicts. It is going to happen over these long-duration missions, even with the very best people,” she said.
This may not be the first experiment of its kind, but it’s one of the longest. NASA conducted similar tests for stints of four to eight months, but decided that a longer experiment is necessary considering a mission to Mars is estimated to take approximately one to three years.
The experiment is focused on human interaction in isolated quarters for an extended period of time. Living in such an intense environment while being deprived of natural human desires will inevitably create conflict between the recruits.
The elite team of brave individuals consists of three men and three women all educated in a wide variety of professions. There’s a French astrobiologist, a German physicist, and an architect, journalist, pilot, and soil scientist all from the U.S.
In the dome, each person is equipped with a tiny bedroom consisting of a sleeping cot and a desk. An average meal will consist of non-perishable items such as powdered cheese and canned tuna.
Think of an experience in a college dorm, only there are only six people and you can’t go outside. If, for whatever reason, the recruits do need access to the outdoors, they’ll be forced to wear a spacesuit.
Cameras and body movement trackers will monitor every moment and every single movement in order to analyze the effects of isolation and how each recruit adapts to their new lifestyle both individually and with the group.
The results could determine whether or not pursuing life on Mars is a viable option. Being able to mentally and emotionally withstand an environment is just as crucial as having the physical requirements such as food, water and shelter.