A six-member crew that has been stationed on the slopes of Mauna Loa, performing scientific experiments in preparation for the future exploration of the Moon and Mars, is scheduled to emerge at noon on Wednesday.
The two-week mission was launched on Feb. 20 under the command of the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Michaela Musilova, chief investigator for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) and the International Moonbase Alliance (IMA).
The mission is under the EuroMoonMars initiative, led by the International Lunar Exploration Working Group of the European Space Agency (ESA), in collaboration with the IMA, European Space Research and Technology Centre, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and HI-SEAS.
It is part of a series of projects led by IMA, which plans to build a moonbase on the moon, as well as a prototype moonbase on Hawaii island.
In addition to geological and drone surveys, the crews have also tested technological instruments and explored lava tubes. For two weeks, they have been cooking with shelf-stable ingredients. In their free time, they have been playing cards.
They are also conducting a research experiment designed by high school students in Slovakia who won a “Mission to Mars” competition last year organized by Musilova. The experiment focuses on fertilizing soils and growing things like spinach in the soils using human hair, according to Musilova.
Musilova said the mission is off to a “very good start” despite some challenges with power cycling on and off and what felt like a temporary disconnection from Earth.
“I thought it would be an amazing experience to feel how it is like to be an astronaut, not on Earth, but on the Moon or somewhere else in the universe,” said crew member Annelotte Weert, a master’s student at VU Amsterdam, in a statement. “And to see how you have to live and how you can do science.”
The crew is made up of Musilova, as well as:
>> Annelotte Weert — Dutch geologist, master’s student at VU Amsterdam/ILEWG
>> Benjamin Pothier — French explorer/anthropology researcher, Plymouth University, Explorers Club member and journalist
>> Josh Burstein—American journalist, host of “Last Glimpse”
>> Nityaporn Sirikan — Thai/British/Italian systems engineer at ESA/ILEWG
>> Sebastian Mulder — Dutch geochemist, master’s student at VU Amsterdam/ILEWG
The mission is an example of more to come at HI-SEAS, according to Musilova, which is open to researchers around the world, as long as their work will help contribute to the exploration and colonization of the Moon and Mars.
A mission control center has been set up at the Blue Planet Research laboratory on the Big Island, which is owned by the IMA founder Henk Rogers. Bernard Foing, executive director of ILEWG, is serving as space-crew communicator.
“These missions can be of much shorter duration than the previous missions that took place at HI-SEAS,” Musilova said in a release. “We also have a different application procedure, which should allow for more diverse people to take part in them. Our hope is to get more UH researchers and students involved in future missions.”
Any crew members interested in applying as well as scientific project proposals for future missions can contact Musilova at firstname.lastname@example.org.