Suara.com – For scientist utilize lava tubes in Hawaii to simulate conditions on Mars, given the ambitious mission to build the first base and habitat on the Red Planet.
While dressed in large clothing such as those required for space exploration, the experts studied the geology and organisms found in the tunnels and lava caves of the Mauna Loa volcano, Hawaii.
This research station is run by the International Moon Base Alliance (IMBA), an association to develop the first international Moon base.
“This is a part of Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (Hi-SEAS), which conducts analogous missions for ‘astronaut’ scientists, mimicking the experience of life on Mars and the Moon, “said Michaela Musilova, director of Hi-SEAS. Live Science, Tuesday (6/4/2021).
During the Hi-SEAS mission, teams of six crew members stay in lava tube habitats for weeks or months.
Resources such as food, water and electricity are very limited and as such, are closely monitored.
Crew members leave the habitat only after wearing protective clothing, helmets, and life support systems.
This simulation also explains the difficulties of conducting research in extreme environments.
Experts chose lava tubes in Hawaii because lava tubes on the Moon and Mars are considered promising locations for finding signs of extraterrestrial life.
Studying lava tubes in Hawaii could also provide clues about extremophiles, organisms that thrive in extreme conditions, on other planets.
Because of this, Hi-SEAS partnered with NASA to study the Mauna Loa extremophile, which creates deposits in lava tubes.
Sampling and studying these organisms can reveal how various factors influence the behavior and survival of extremophiles, in lava tube systems across the solar system.
However, another challenge that must be faced is that the samples are easily contaminated and performing tasks becomes much more difficult when wearing cumbersome clothing and equipment.
Even so, Musilova said, the better mankind is prepared for life on other planets, the better the plans will be.