Second HI-SEAS Mars space analog study begins

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Kim Binsted, (808) 398-1300
Associate Professor
Talia Ogliore, (808) 956-4531
Public Information Officer, Vice Chancellor for Research
Posted: Mar 28, 2014

HI-SEAS crew member wearing simulated spacesuit (2013 mission photo; credit: Yajaira Sierra-Sastre)
HI-SEAS crew member wearing simulated spacesuit (2013 mission photo; credit: Yajaira Sierra-Sastre)

Link to video and interviews of entering habitat:

Link to video and interviews of preparations from earlier in the day:


A new space odyssey began tonight as the six crew members of the new Hawai‘i Space Exploration and Analog Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission entered their remote habitat on the first night of a four-month-long journey.

Under a dark night sky on Mauna Loa, commander Casey Stedman closed the simulated air lock behind the crew, sealing the habitat and cutting off all physical contact with the outside world for the next 120 days.

But while the outside world is locked away, the inside world will be closely monitored.

Using surveillance cameras, electronic surveys, crew member diaries and other sources, researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa will be keeping an eye on the crew. Researchers are tracking group cohesion and a wide range of cognitive, social and emotional factors. They are particularly interested in how technical, social, and task roles within the group evolve over time and how they affect performance.

It’s all part of NASA-funded research to understand how teams of astronauts will perform during isolated, long-duration space exploration missions, such as those that will be required for human travel to Mars.

“Our tools and technology for space exploration are very good, but as a human race we still must contend with the ‘soft side’ risks of space travel,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for HI-SEAS. “The risks are greater the farther we hope to explore and the longer we have to keep people in space. We need to determine the best way to pick and train a crew with the right psychological makeup and supports to deal with the pressure. We also need to understand how ground crews can best assist astronaut teams that are operating under a high degree of autonomy over time.”

It takes an unmanned spacecraft between 150 to 300 days to travel between Earth and the red planet. Scientists estimate that a manned journey to Mars will take around three years to complete round-trip.

NASA believes that different emotional and psychological factors might be more important for longer duration trips.

In June 2013, NASA awarded UH Mānoa $1.2 million to support three space analog missions over the next three years: four months (this one), eight months, and one year in duration, respectively. The new research follows a successful HI-SEAS food study conducted last year.

The HI-SEAS crew members will be living in a solar-powered dome that is 36 feet in diameter. The first floor of the habitat has a kitchen, dining area, bathroom with shower, a lab, and exercise and common spaces. A second floor loft features six tiny bedrooms and a half bath.

Special care has been taken to ensure the integrity of the space analog environment. For example, crew members experience a 20-minute communications delay whenever they make contact with the ground crew, just as astronauts would when Earth and Mars are at their farthest apart. Likewise, crew members will suit up in mockup spacesuits whenever they step outside of the habitat. These “excursions” will be modeled after extraterrestrial surface explorations such as those conducted during the Apollo missions to the Moon.

The public is invited to follow along with the photos, videos, and researcher blogs for the new HI-SEAS mission at or on Twitter (@HI_SEAS) or Facebook (

Crew member bios and photos are included on the website.

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Researcher contact information:

Kim Binsted cell phone (808) 398-1300; email address


  • Driving up to the habitat, unloading the equipment, walking in and closing the door


Lucie  Poulet -- HI-SEAS crew member (8 seconds)
“I still can’t believe it. I’m still not realizing that we are going to be locked in for 120 days but very excited about it.”

Anne Caraccio -- HI-SEAS crew member (11 seconds)
“Right now, I feel wet but I am trying to imagine it’s a Mars sandstorm. So, it is a relief to finally get started. I’ve been mentally preparing for a while now, so I am ready to get in there and get the mission going.”

Ron Williams -- HI-SEAS crew member (14 seconds)
“Hard to believe it is finally here, after all this preparation, thinking about it, excitement, we are actually here. Atmospheric conditions are not exactly the best on Mars but we’ll get over that and move on and we’re excited about it.”


  • Kilauea Military Camp exterior
  • Ironing HI-SEAS patch (2 shots)
  • HI-SEAS crew members packing (6 shots)
  • Crew members receiving first aid training (5 shots)
  • Exterior shots of the habitat (6 shots)
  • Space walk from the first mission (1 long shot)


Kim Binsted -- Principal Investigator, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (9 seconds)
“Mission like this, reduce the risk of going to Mars. By practicing here on earth, rehearsing the things we need to do on a trip to Mars, we are making it possible.”

Ross Lockwood -- HI-SEAS crew member (11 seconds)
“Primary goal of this study is evaluating our psychological welfare over the duration of the mission. This just allows, it a little test bed, a low cost test bed for future studies.”

Casey Stedman –- HI-SEAS mission commander (13 seconds)
“Basic vetting that all of us had to go through is not unlike NASA’s astronaut core. We all had to meet certain physical and health requirements, we all had to meet certain education requirements, we all had to pass a certain bar of experience too and I think that is going to help a great deal.”

Anne Caraccio –- HI-SEAS crew member (11 seconds)
“I am ready to get started. I’ve been trying to immensely prepare for weeks now, so I am just sort of, let’s get in there and get this started. So I am ready to go.”

For more information, visit: