A Year and a Day in a Mars Simulator: Reflections at the Halfway Mark

Longreads

At Aeon, Sheyna Gifford, mission physician for NASA’s HI-SEAS IV space exploration analogue, reflects on six months in a Mars simulator. When the six-person crew emerges on August 28th, 2016 — after a year and a day “off-planet” — they’ll have completed the longest NASA-funded Mars simulation in history.

Life on sMars, like on Mars itself, is elemental. Our chief concerns revolve around sun, air, water and rock — specifically, what we can and can’t do with those four basics in the right combinations. The Sun creates our energy. We, in turn, transform that energy into artificial light, in colours of the spectrum that most please our plants. The plants take up water, and set their roots in rocks that we’ve gathered from the surface. Their stems reach up towards the light, and our hopes grow with them: exhaled by the green leaves, born in the flowers that…

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