13:24 GMT16 January 2021
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    A member of a NASA simulated mission to Mars revealed that it would be quite feasible to establish an outpost on the Red Planet provided that mankind gets serious about it.

    Laura Lark, member of a NASA-backed research team that spent eight months cooped up in a habitat on a remote Hawaii volcano where conditions were specifically designed to replicate those on Mars, told Radio Sputnik that we aren't actually too far off establishing a real colony on the Red planet.

    "It’s perfectly scientifically achievable, though the question becomes more of a cultural one. Is there Russia’s support, like there was for some of the early space missions? Taking people to Mars now, how serious are people are taking this as a world culture?" Lark explained.

    She pointed out that one of the main aspects of the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) mission was devoted to studying how a group of people would manage to cope with each other in a sealed environment and resolve all the potential interpersonal conflicts – a problem that may pose quite a challenge to a team of would-be colonists during a lengthy spaceflight and a deployment on an alien world.

    "We put in quite a bit of effort to preventing it in the first place so we would discuss things that were bothering us before they became problems. We would do activities as a group to improve our cohesion and our social dynamics as a group; keep ourselves healthy in that way," Lark said, adding that any problems that would come up were to be resolved in a way that was both "open and caring."

    Lark also added that "there is certainly a ways to go" in terms of technological and psychological preparations before humanity would know enough to "navigate these risks of sending people to Mars," referring to the experience her team acquired during their experiment.

    "I think there’s a lot more training, but actual astronauts going to Mars would have in addition to the interpersonal skill that we brought out of the mission. But I think that the research that the HI-SEAS is performing will be critical to sending people to Mars eventually," she said.

    The crew of four men and two women were part of a NASA-backed experiment staged in Hawaii to try and better understand the psychological impact a long-term space mission would have on astronauts. Before their release on Sunday, September 17, they had remained in quarantine inside a dome placed on a vast plain below the summit of the Big Island's Mauna Loa.


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    simulation, research, conflicts, colony, Mars, NASA, Hawaii, US
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