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Mars is hard

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Kraken
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

NASA announces Curiosity II
The space agency on Tuesday announced plans to launch another mega-rover to the red planet in 2020 that will be modeled after the wildly popular Curiosity.

To keep costs down, engineers will borrow Curiosity's blueprints, recycle spare parts where possible and use proven technology including the novel landing gear that delivered the car-size rover inside an ancient crater in August.
Often have I wondered why NASA does not build multiple copies of its robotic spacecraft. The R&D costs are so high on unique missions that producing 3 or 5 pieces of every part would be a comparatively trivial investment.

This bit struck me as funny:
In the coming months, a team of experts will debate whether the new rover should have the ability to drill into rocks and store pieces for a future pickup — either by another spacecraft or humans.
Really? Humans would land at a site that had already been explored, and then spend time retrieving samples that a robot collected 15-20 years earlier? I don't think so.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by wonderpug »

Well, I guess the "by another spacecraft" part could be a craft that's put all it's weight into the ability to grab some nicely collected and zip-locked bags of rocks and bring them back to earth, with no room or weight allowance for drilling apparatus.

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Re: Mars is hard

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The reason why they don't build copies is that part of the giant cost is actually the launch of the rover, and missions tend to be pretty specialized, and costly. Not only is there the cost for the rover, the launch, there's also all the costs for long term monitoring. So even if they build an extra, they wouldn't have the funding to send it anywhere.

Curiosity is actually bouncing data through a previous satellite we put into orbit around mars.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Turtle wrote:The reason why they don't build copies is that part of the giant cost is actually the launch of the rover, and missions tend to be pretty specialized, and costly. Not only is there the cost for the rover, the launch, there's also all the costs for long term monitoring. So even if they build an extra, they wouldn't have the funding to send it anywhere.

Curiosity is actually bouncing data through a previous satellite we put into orbit around mars.
I'm thinking more as backups for failed missions than as follow-ons to success, although both would be welcome. They'd be more likely to get the funding to launch a follow-up mission if they could say "y'know, we already have this extra rover in inventory...." You don't get two for the price of one, but maybe you get two for the price of one and a half.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Isgrimnur »

Drill, baby, drill!
NASA’s Curiosity rover has explored a new area on Mars called Yellowknife Bay, which shows plenty of evidence of flowing water. The rover is preparing to drill into a rock nicknamed “John Klein” in the location in the next couple weeks, investigating its composition and searching for organics. This will be the first time that engineers have drilled into the surface of another planet.

Scientists already know that Curiosity’s explorations have taken it to a place that was basically an ancient riverbed. Now they are uncovering the complex geologic history of the area and have stumbled across many interesting features.
...
For the last few weeks, the rover has been moving from the plateau it landed on down a slope into a depression. As it descended, it passed through layers of rock that are increasingly older, taking it backwards into the planet’s history. Geologists are finding a lot of different rock types, indicating that many different geologic processes took place here over time.

Some of the minerals are sedimentary, suggesting that flowing water moved small grains around and deposited them, and other evidence suggests water moved through the rocks after they had formed. Tiny spherical concretions scattered through the rock were likely formed when water percolated through rock pores and minerals precipitated out. Other samples are cracked and filled with veins of material such as calcium sulfate, that were also formed when water percolated through the cracks and deposited the mineral.
...
The drilling will probably take place within two weeks, though NASA engineers are still unsure of the exact date. The procedure will be “the most significant engineering thing we’ve done since landing,” said Cook, and will require several trial runs, equipment warm-ups, and drilling a couple test holes to make sure everything works. The team wants to take things as slowly as possible to correct for any problems that may arise, such as potential electrical shorts and excessive shaking of the rover.

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Re: Mars is hard

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This image from Mars Orbiter shows Curiosity's tracks from its landing site at the left to the current location that Isg posted about above. Click to embiggen.

Enlarge Image

Higher-res images here: http://www.uahirise.org/ESP_030168_1755" target="_blank

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Isgrimnur »

Image

Wired
The results of this “mini-drill” operation can be seen in the image above: a tiny hole 1.6 cm across and 2 cm deep, a cavity just barely big enough for you to stick your pinky finger into. The event was in preparation of Curiosity’s upcoming big-kid version of this drilling, when it will bore into a rock nicknamed John Klein and analyze the interior of Mars.

The shavings from this mini-drill test will be evaluated to see if they are suitable to be processed by the rover’s scoop and interior lab instruments. They will also be used to rub the drill bit of any remaining contaminants from Earth to ensure a clean sample. If everything checks out, the rover could perform its first major drilling, which will reach a depth of 5 cm, in several days.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Lassr »

If you have a pair of 3d glasses laying around (the red & blue/green lens cheap kind) you can go to

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mars3d/" target="_blank

and see all the Mars landscape photos in 3D.
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Re: Mars is hard

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I keep a pair of those around for just such occasions. Pretty cool.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Hyena »

From what little I remember from science classes in high school 20-something years ago, most (if not all) rocks have a "cleavage rating" or some such. Salt, for example, cleaves in cubes, etc. Something I have found that's very interesting is in that 3d panoramic picture from page 5, there are dozens of grey-blue rocks that stick up from the ground, and nearly ALL of them have a triangular appearance. I don't remember any minerals or rocks having a natural pyramid-style cleavage. Is that from the water erosion back when it was covered in water, is it a new mineral not found here on Earth, or am I just seeing things?

And by no means am I going all Richard Hoagland and claiming they are all "hyperdimensional physics rocks" or anything, I am just genuinely interested in why there seem to be so many similar shaped rocks. But speaking of Richard H., they look oddly like extremely miniature versions of the 5-sided mountains in the Cydonia region...
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Re: Mars is hard

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How much does Newegg charge to ship a few sticks of RAM to Mars?
NASA wrote:The ground team for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has switched the rover to a redundant onboard computer in response to a memory issue on the computer that had been active.
***
The spacecraft remained in communications at all scheduled communication windows on Wednesday, but it did not send recorded data, only current status information. The status information revealed that the computer had not switched to the usual daily "sleep" mode when planned. Diagnostic work in a testing simulation at JPL indicates the situation involved corrupted memory at an A-side memory location used for addressing memory files.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Miles-wide comet bearing down on Mars

A comet spotted earlier this year may pass close enough for Mars to feel the rock’s hot breath down its neck, according to new reports that surfaced Monday and Tuesday. The comet, named C/2013 A1, may pass within a few tens of thousands of miles of Mars’ center, with a remote chance that the miles-wide comet will collide with the planet.

C/2013 A1 “Siding Spring,” a comet between 5 and 30 miles wide, was spotted January 3 by astronomer Robert H. McNaught. Researchers were able to look back in the image history of the Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona and spot signs of the comet as early as December 8, 2012. NASA states that other archives have traced sightings back to October 4, 2012.

According to scientists at NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, Siding Spring originates from the Oort Cloud of our Solar System and has been journeying to this point for more than a million years. In less than two years, around October 19, 2014, the comet will pass very close to Mars.

Based on the parabolic orbit observed so far, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab estimates Siding Spring will pass within 186,000 miles of Mars. The NEO’s estimate, based on observations from data up to March 1, places the distances at 31,000 miles from the surface. NBC notes that observations made by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin of the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics indicate that the comet will pass 25,700 miles from the center of Mars.

“The possibility of an impact cannot be excluded,” stated NASA in a press release. According to NBC, the comet would be moving 35 miles per second at the time of impact and would create a crater up to 10 times the diameter of the comet’s body and around 1.25 miles deep. If the comet manages to miss Mars, it will be a prime target for observation in October of next year, as it’s set to pass Mars around October 19, followed by the Sun on October 25.
(Quoted in its entirety because it's so short)

How cool would it be if we still have working spacecraft on the planet during this encounter, and if they're in a position to observe anything?

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Re: Mars is hard

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Cool new panorama of Mt Sharp in raw color. Put it on fullscreen and zoom around. There's also a white-balanced version that shows how it would look in earthly lighting.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Re: Mars is hard

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Get your name buried in the contents of DVD being sent to Mars on MAVEN

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/201 ... n=20130502" target="_blank

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Re: Mars is hard

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Short video flies over the region where Curiosity has been and where it is headed.

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Re: Mars is hard

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LordMortis wrote:Get your name buried in the contents of DVD being sent to Mars on MAVEN

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/201 ... n=20130502" target="_blank
MAVEN is on its way to Mars.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Litigation over the jelly doughnut:
Rhawn Joseph, a neuropsychologist and author, filed a lawsuit in a California court earlier this week demanding NASA "thoroughly scientifically examine and investigate" the mystery object that seemingly appeared out of nowhere on the surface of Mars this month.

Dubbed the "jelly donut," by Opportunity lead scientist Steve Squyres, the rock is white on the outside with a red center. And while NASA scientists admitted it was "unlike anything we have seen before," they definitely determined it to be a rock.
...
The self-labelled astrobiologist and author of several books on extraterrestial life instead resorted to legal action against the agency, explaining in the court petition his theory that the rock is indeed "a putative biological organism."

In fact, it could be a "mushroom-like fungus, a composite organism consisting of colonies of lichen and cyanobacteria, and which on Earth is known as Apothecium," Joseph speculated in the petition.

Joseph contends the object wasn't moved into view by anything; it was already there and grew to its present size in 12 days.

He added that it was "inexplicable, recklessly negligent, and bizarre" that NASA did not take close-up photos from a variety of angles, and requested that "100 high-resolution photos and 24 microscopic in-focus images of the object's exterior" be provided to him.

Joseph's writings have previously appeared on an online journal called Cosmology, which hasn't shied away from publishing controversial topics in the past. He has also authored a range of books on various topics including neuropsychology, UFOs, the Sept. 11 terror attacks and female sexuality.

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Re: Mars is hard

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Enlarge Image

You Are Here

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Re: Mars is hard

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So... bathroom is left?
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Re: Mars is hard

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Fatwa forbids Muslims from going to Mars
The committee of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates that issued the fatwa against such a journey doesn't have anything against space exploration,Elon Musk's Mars visions, or anything like that. Rather, the religious leaders argue that making the trip would be tantamount to committing suicide, which all religions tend to frown upon.
...
Professor Farooq Hamada, who presided over the committee, explained, "Protecting life against all possible dangers and keeping it safe is an issue agreed upon by all religions and is clearly stipulated in verse 4/29 of the Holy Quran: Do not kill yourselves or one another. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful."

Hundreds of Saudis and other Arabs have applied to Mars One, and the committee suspects some may be interested in the trip "for escaping punishment or standing before Almighty Allah for judgment," according to the Khaleej Times.

The committee stood firm in its belief that this approach would be a waste of time and one very long trip: "This is an absolutely baseless and unacceptable belief because not even an atom falls outside the purview of Allah, the Creator of everything."

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Re: Mars is hard

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MAVEN reached orbit yesterday morning; MOM is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday.

Mars is getting crowded.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Stefan Stirzaker »

Indian MOM burn has started, and hopefully when radio blackout ceases, India will be the third country to be in orbit around Mars. Looks like most is Indian developed so a truly great achievement
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Re: Mars is hard

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Congratulations to India, the only nation to make it to Mars on their first try.

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Re: Mars is hard

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50 years ago today, NASA launched Mariner 4, the first probe to Mars.

Telescopic observations were vague and contradictory. We were pretty sure there weren't really any canals, but we thought there might be seasonal vegetation and possibly some evidence of higher life in the present or past (ruined cities, maybe). Nobody was sure what the first pictures would show.

The primitive images that came in the next summer discouraged those hopes. All we saw was craters. Mars didn't look much more hospitable than the moon. 8-year-old me was disappointed and refused to believe that Mars was just another dead rock until Mariner 9 reinforced those conclusions in greater detail a few years later.

Image

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Hyena »

Kraken wrote:50 years ago today, NASA launched Mariner 4, the first probe to Mars.

Telescopic observations were vague and contradictory. We were pretty sure there weren't really any canals, but we thought there might be seasonal vegetation and possibly some evidence of higher life in the present or past (ruined cities, maybe). Nobody was sure what the first pictures would show.

The primitive images that came in the next summer discouraged those hopes. All we saw was craters. Mars didn't look much more hospitable than the moon. 8-year-old me was disappointed and refused to believe that Mars was just another dead rock until Mariner 9 reinforced those conclusions in greater detail a few years later.

Image
But...but...what about the FACE?! And those "hyperdimensional physics" Hoaglund is always talking about? :ninja:

That being said, I *do* think something is (or was) there. Probably didn't get to a civilization, or even self-aware, or hell, even multi-cellular, but I think "life" is the norm rather than the exception. There's just too much stuff out there in my opinion. Every time we look at something out there, we seem to find the potential building blocks for life as we know it. How many other ways are there of life that we *don't* know about?
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Re: Mars is hard

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On earth, there is life wherever there is water. Of course we only have this single example so we don't know if that's true everywhere. Mars had water. So the other big question is whether life originated there as we believe it did on earth, or if it was seeded from elsewhere as might be true of earth.

My hunch is that we'll eventually find single-celled organism clinging to isolated environments on Mars...but it might take a lot of looking to find them.

Anyway, that's a far cry from the living world that we imagined Mars to be before Mariner 4 doused those hopes.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Holman »

The NYT has a pretty cool interactive feature on Curiosity's path and exploits.
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by LordMortis »

My hunch is that we'll eventually find single-celled organism clinging to isolated environments on Mars...but it might take a lot of looking to find them.

Getting closer.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4413

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Holman »

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has measured a tenfold spike in methane, an organic chemical, in the atmosphere around it and detected other organic molecules in a rock-powder sample collected by the robotic laboratory's drill.
225,000,000km and $2,500,000,000, and the vital question is "Who farted?"
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Re: Mars is hard

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LordMortis wrote:
My hunch is that we'll eventually find single-celled organism clinging to isolated environments on Mars...but it might take a lot of looking to find them.

Getting closer.

http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=4413
And you never know if by doing so and accidentally killing it that we doom a whole future sentient species.
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by msduncan »

Hypothetical question:

* Assume for the sake of this question that the results are indeed the presence of micro bacterial life on the surface, and a significant amount of it.


Could there be (relatively speaking) more advanced life under the surface? I'm talking in deep caves, around thermal vents, etc? I'm not talking advanced like furry two headed kitty cats that just want humans to come so they can curl up in our laps. I'm talking "more advanced" very relatively speaking -- like microscopic type life evolved from the micro bacterial stuff that is there.
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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Kraken »

Of course there could be. That's what makes early exploration so exciting.

The minute we confirm multicellular life, we must declare war.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Turtle »

What you guys might not realize though, is that while most Earth based bacterial life would die on the surface of Mars, including some of what we consider extremophiles on Earth. There's significant evidence that many of our microbial life would be just fine living just under the surface of mars. So we've probably already contaminated the planet, but it's not like Martian life was going anywhere anyway. Even if a moon sized water asteroid hit mars, it would just evaporate off into space due to lack of a magnetosphere.

I'm pretty sure we'll find signs of ancient life on Mars, long dead since the planet's protective geological activity became dormant.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by LordMortis »

Turtle wrote:What you guys might not realize though, is that while most Earth based bacterial life would die on the surface of Mars, including some of what we consider extremophiles on Earth. There's significant evidence that many of our microbial life would be just fine living just under the surface of mars. So we've probably already contaminated the planet, but it's not like Martian life was going anywhere anyway. Even if a moon sized water asteroid hit mars, it would just evaporate off into space due to lack of a magnetosphere.

I'm pretty sure we'll find signs of ancient life on Mars, long dead since the planet's protective geological activity became dormant.
Won't Mars be going somewhere in 2030? Aren't "we" supposed go there and back again? Martian life can hitch a ride.

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Re: Mars is hard

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NASA wants Ziggy Stardust for questioning
Imaged by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) that orbits the planet 150 miles overhead, strange spider-like formations cover this south polar region of Mars. And these are truly alien features that are found nowhere on Earth.
Image

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Re: Mars is hard

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The only reason people get lost in thought is because it's unfamiliar territory.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by AWS260 »

(Fake) Mars is hard.
Four crewmembers simulating a mission on Mars dealt with a real-life emergency late last month — a greenhouse fire so strong that flames reached at least 10 feet (3 meters) high.

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by Isgrimnur »

RIP, Schiaparelli
This image by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows what appears to be the ExoMars lander's parachute (bright spot at bottom) and the impact site of the lander itself (dark patch at top).


Europe's ExoMars lander apparently crashed on the Red Planet, and an orbiting NASA spacecraft has spotted its grave, European Space Agency (ESA) officials said.

The lander, named Schiaparelli, stopped communicating with mission control about 1 minute before its planned touchdown on Mars Wednesday morning (Oct. 19). Newly released photos of the landing site by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) seem to confirm what ExoMars team members had suspected — that Schiaparelli died a violent death.
Enlarge Image

(click to embiggenate)
[img]This comparison of before-and-after images by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows two features likely created during the Oct. 19, 2016 landing attempt of the ExoMars Schiaparelli lander. The small bright feature at bottom is probably Schiaparelli’s parachute, while the dark, fuzzy blob is likely the lander’s crash site.
[/img]

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Re: Mars is hard

Post by AWS260 »

My upstairs neighbors is away for a few months, on Mars:

Image

Specifically, she's a crewmember in the HI-SEAS Mars habitat simulation. Eight months of living in a 1,200 square foot dome with five other people.
The HI-SEAS Habitat is semi-portable, low-impact, and designed to have all the desirable analog features specified in Keeton et al (2011). It has a habitable volume of ~13,000 cubic feet, a usable floor space of ~1200 square feet, and small sleeping quarters for a crew of six, as well as a kitchen, laboratory, bathroom, simulated airlock and ‘dirty’ work area.

The HI-SEAS site has Mars-like geology which allows crews to perform high-fidelity geological field work and add to the realism of the mission simulation. The Martian regolith examined by the CheMin instrument (Blake et al. 2012) is very similar to the weathered basaltic materials found in this part of Hawaii.

HI-SEAS offers not only physical isolation and geological similarity. We have developed a robust system of high-latency communication between Crew and Mission Support that imposes a Mars-like 20-minute delay on message reception each way.

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