When humans build the first bases and habitats in other worlds, they will face dangers and challenges, which are different from any challenges faced by previous astronauts. To meet these challenges, scientists are digging deep underground into Hawaii’s lava tube, which simulates the conditions of a rocky alien world.
There, the task force members sailed on the uneven volcanic terrain and endured the physical constraints of conducting research in the harsh environment.Scientists wearing large suits like those needed for alien exploration, studied the geology and creatures found in the lava tunnels and caves of Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii volcanic.
This unique research station in Mauna Loa is operated by the International Lunar Base Alliance (IMBA), which is dedicated to the development of the first international lunar base moon Base, according to IMBA website. It is part of Hawaii Space Exploration Simulation and Simulation (Hi-SEAS), which organizes simulation missions for “astronaut”
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In the Hi-SEAS mission, a team of no more than six crew members will live in the lava dome habitat for weeks or months. Musilova told Live Science that although everyone has a designated role, such as commander, combat officer, crew engineer, and science communicator, tasks are usually shared by the crew when needed.
She explained: “We usually have multiple crew members who can complete similar tasks. If someone is injured or tired, someone can replace them.”
Resources such as food, water and power are very limited, so they are strictly monitored (just like the moon or Mars), and the crew can leave the habitat only if they wear protective clothing, helmets and life-saving systems. The simulated astronauts who enter the Mauna Loa lava tube network wear suits to conduct research and collect key data about the lava tube geology and ecosystem. According to the introduction of LPSC, their work also revealed the difficulties of conducting science in extreme environments. (Chelsea Gohd, a reporter from Live Science’s sister site Space.com, participated in a simulated Mars mission at Hi-SEAS in November 2020. You can read her mission update Here)
Musilova said: “Since 2018, I have conducted nearly 30 simulated flight missions there.” Musilova is also an astrobiologist and serves as the crew commander of the Hi-SEAS mission. . She said: “We must prepare as much as possible for everything, because in space, there are many things that can go wrong, even the smallest things can affect the mission and kill people.”
It is believed that the lava tubes on the moon and Mars are promising places to find signs of extraterrestrial life. Studying Mona Loa’s lava tubes can provide clues to extremophiles, which are organisms that thrive under extreme conditions. To this end, Hi-SEAS collaborated with NASA to study the extremophiles in Mauna Loa, which produce sediments in lava tubes.
Sampling and studying these organisms and their by-products can reveal how different factors affect the behavior and survival of extremophiles in the entire lava tube system. Solar system, She explained.
However, when searching for life on the Moon and Mars, another important consideration will be the actual loss of human astronauts caused by this work. According to the report, microbial samples are easily contaminated, and it becomes more challenging to perform sensitive tasks while wearing cumbersome equipment.
Musilova told Live Science: “Even if you don’t have a simulated spacesuit, it may take hours to collect certain samples when you do something carefully.” “Now, you have added a spacesuit. It restricts Your activities and eyesight-due to the helmet, you can only bend or bend your head. You can only bend and kneel on the ground, because this way the life support system is connected from the backpack to the helmet, so your working ability is greatly affected. Big restriction.”
Musilova said: “The more we prepare for the space program on Earth, the better.”
Originally published in “Life Science”.