Six scientists have crossed the halfway point of an eight month stint in a dome perched atop a remote volcano in Hawaii where they are living in isolation to simulate life for astronauts traveling to Mars, the University of Hawaii said.
The study is designed to help NASA better understand human behavior and performance during long space missions as the U.S. space agency explores plans for a manned mission to the Red Planet.
The crew have been performing geological field work and basic daily tasks in the 1,200-square-foot dome, located in an abandoned quarry 2.5 km above sea level on the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii's Big Island.
There is little vegetation and the scientists have no contact with the outside world, said the university, which operates the dome.
Communications with a mission control team are time-delayed to match the 20-minute travel time of radio waves passing between Earth and Mars.
The project is intended to create guidelines for future missions to Mars, some 56 million km away, a long-term goal of the U.S. human space program.
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