NASA will be simulating a Martian mission in Hawaii in order to better study and establish a more efficient sampling methodology and process.
NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration agency will be running a Martian mission simulation in Mauna Ulu, Hawaii under the name of BASALT Mission.
The BASALT or Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains will seek to analyze and determine the best sample collection and protection protocols so as to be able to use them during future missions.
The BASALT mission will begin this week and span over two weeks, with its team members being sent and then left in Mauna Ulu in an environment and with conditions similar to those which are to be expected during a Martian mission.
The mission will take place simultaneously in two locations as a number of non-spacesuit wearing astronauts will also be left in Idaho on the Snake River Plain.
Real life mission parameters will be simulated which will include, for example, a communication delay in between 5 to 20 minutes long, similar to the calculated delay between Mars and Earth.
A mission control center will be set up at the Kilauea Military Camp, which will also be open to a number of 20 students from the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
The location of the Hawaiian experiment was chosen thanks to the area’s similarities to the Martian superficial terrain structure and because it offers the closest such terrain that can be found here on Earth.
The Hawaiian volcanoes are made from almost the same composition as the minerals covering the Red Planet’s surface, a mix based predominantly on basalt.
According to one the University of Hawaii’s at Hilo astronomers, John Hamilton, one of the mission’s obstacles would have been posed by the possibility of the samples’ contamination with living bacteria.
In order to combat this potential problem, NASA is said to have developed the Bio-Indicator Lidar Instrument. The instrument is able to detect bio-signals which feature signs of pollution with the help of a laser light beam.
This will not be NASA’s first simulated Martian mission in Hawaii so as to test various theories and to have the best possible preparations in order for the actual mission.
The agency used the Mauna Loa area and volcano as a testing ground for its HI-SEAS projects. This sought to study the effect of confinement on the psychic as the astronomers were left a year in isolation.
It was determined that such a solitary period can have effects on a person’s mentality and lead to adverse reactions.
Projects such as the BASALT and HI-SEAS are just part of NASA’s efforts to better understand the possible effects a future mission on Mars might have on both its members and on its targets, and also their efforts to be prepared for whatever they may encounter along the way.
Image Source: Wikimedia
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