Scientists Dress Up in Space Clothes to Explore Hawaiian Lava Tubes as if They Were on Mars

Think about making an attempt to choose up pebbles or scrape microbes from cave partitions in a giant spacesuit with puffy gloves, beneath time constraints since you do not need to run out of oxygen. That is what analog astronauts do every single day within the HI-SEAS lunar base habitat in Hawaii as they put together for future missions to the moon and Mars, mentioned Michaela Musilova of the Worldwide MoonBase Alliance (IMA) and director of HI-SEAS, Hawaii Analog Area Exploration and Simulation.

Musilova will current her workforce’s newest analysis on Hawaiian lava tubes, and the challenges of making an attempt to do analysis in a spacesuit, this week on the Basic Meeting of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) 2021..



is a lunar analog and a Martian habitat and analysis station positioned excessive on the Mauna Loa volcano, on Hawaii’s Huge Island. There, researchers dwell and work for days to months, solely going exterior to conduct experiments or climb inside lava tubes, and solely in hefty Further-Vehicular Exercise (EVA) analog spacesuits like if they’re on the moon or Mars. The 110-square-meter (1,200-square-foot) habitat is residence to astronauts, a health club, labs — and extra — whereas they’re on “missions.”

Lava tubes, comparable to these discovered on Mauna Loa, are essential to discover on this EVA spacesuit, as lava tubes on Mars and the moon are additionally essential to discover. Lava tubes on Mars are essential targets for astrobiological analysis as a result of they’re thought to have biosignatures of life, comparable to caves and a few lava tubes on Earth. In the meantime, lava tubes on the moon might function shelters for potential human settlements. However lava tubes aren’t straightforward to navigate — and that is very true for analog astronauts carrying spacesuits.

“Doing analysis in a swimsuit beneath EVA constraints makes issues much more troublesome to do, and all of it takes 3 times as lengthy,” says Musilova. “We have to prepare extensively on Earth to seek out the very best strategies and create the very best EVA fits so we will do this type of analysis on the moon and Mars sooner or later,” he mentioned.

Mauna Loa’s volcanic panorama is much like what we see on the moon and Mars, mentioned Bernard Foing, govt director of the Worldwide Moon Exploration Working Group’s EuroMoonMars challenge. Foing can also be a part of the IMA and can current analysis from the exploration of the EuroMoonMars challenge at HI-SEAS and several other different websites, together with Iceland, Chile’s Atacama Desert, and the Utah Desert, on the EGU assembly on the similar session on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Location This analogue allowed the workforce “to check expertise that we will ship into house” and to check “coaching and capability constructing for researchers and explorers,” Foing mentioned.

The crew of HI-SEAS – future astronaut candidates in coaching – attempt to determine what works, and what does not, on Earth to organize for future house missions. A crew on HI-SEAS carries out missions as they might in house: crew roles embrace commander, operations officer, engineer, and science communications officer, plus specialists for particular experiments or tasks, comparable to crew biologists to check biofilms in lava tubes or to assist run experiments such because the current LettuceGrow experiment, the place the workforce examined the way to develop lettuce in habitats.

Crew members, together with folks from all around the world from completely different backgrounds and talking completely different languages, spent all their time collectively in the course of the mission, simply as they might on the moon or Mars, Musilova mentioned. “We nonetheless have quite a bit to study, together with about how people work together in these difficult situations,” he mentioned.

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