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At approximately 4:50 p.m. on January 19, 2017, six astronaut-like crewmembers entered a geodesic dome located 8,200 feet above sea level on Mauna Loa on the island of Hawaiʻi, which will serve as their home for the next eight months.

They are part of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project, which has been operating long-duration planetary surface missions to investigate crew composition since 2012. This is the fifth in a series of HI-SEAS missions.

The HI-SEAS dome

NASA funded HI-SEAS missions 2, 3 and 4 with a $1.2 million grant and has provided $1 million for missions 5 and 6 (scheduled for 2018).

The crew will be monitored by an experienced mission support team and will perform exploration tasks such as geological field work and life systems management. The conditions, such as delayed communication and partial self- sufficiency, are explicitly designed to be similar to those of a planetary surface exploration mission. Daily routines include food preparation from shelf-stable ingredients, exercise, scientific research, equipment testing and tracking resource utilization such as food, power and water.

In August 2016, HI-SEAS successfully completed its first one-year isolation mission, placing it in the company of a small group of analogs that are capable of operating very long-duration missions, such as Mars500, Concordia and the International Space Station.

Read more UH News stories on previous HI-SEAS missions.

—By Kelli Trifonovitch

astronaut-like crewmembers about to enter a geodesic dome on Mauna Loa
From left, Joshua Ehrlich, Laura Lark, Sam Payler, Brian Ramos, Jay Bevington and Ansley Barnard
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