NASA study paving way for human travel to Mars

A group of NASA-funded researchers are poised to enter an isolated geodesic dome on a remote Hawaii volcano to study human behavior in long-term space exploration, including a planned voyage to Mars. The six scientists enter their new home Thursday on the Big Island's Mauna Loa volcano for an eight-month stay. The team will have no physical contact with people in the outside world and will work with a 20-minute delay in communications, the time it would take for an email to reach Earth from Mars. The study will assess the psychological difficulties associated with living in isolated and confined conditions for an extended time. The project is designed to help the U.S. space agency send humans on long space voyages including to Mars by the 2030s. "We're hoping to figure out how best to select individual astronauts, how to compose a crew and how to support that crew on long-duration space missions," principal investigator Kim Binstead, a University of Hawaii science professor. She said NASA's timeline is realistic unless the agency is "directed to do something different by the new administration." Trump's transition team did not respond to an emailed request for comment on NASA's plan.

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