MAUNA LOA, Hawaii (KXAN/NBC News) — For eight months, researchers lived on a Hawaii volcano inside a 1,200 square-foot dome, with only each other for company.
The four men and two women emerged Sunday from the structure, designed to simulate what it would be like during a long-term manned mission to space. They began living together in the NASA-designed dome in January, and were greeted with applause and cheers after their successful mission at the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation facility on Mauna Loa.
During the study, sensors within the dome measured their moods and proximity to other people . They could also monitor voice levels, and even sense if the crew members were trying to avoid one another. The researchers also played games to measure their compatibility and stress levels. This helps scientists understand the psychological effects of living in close proximity in a small space, something that will be required on manned missions to places like Mars.
This is the fifth of six NASA-funded studies at the University of Hawaii’s facility and has pledged $2.5 million in funding for projects there.