Preparing to explore Mars at HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation)
Kim Binsted



HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, www.hi-seas.org) is a habitat on an isolated Mars-like site on the Mauna Loa side of the saddle area on the Big Island of Hawaii at approximately 8200 feet above sea level. HI-SEAS is unique, in addition to its setting in a distinctive analog environment, as:
  • we select the crew to meet our research needs (in serendipitous analogs, such as Antarctic stations, crew selection criteria are not controlled by researchers)
  • the conditions (habitat, mission, communications, etc.) are explicitly designed to be similar to those of a planetary exploration mission
  • the site is accessible year round, allowing longer-duration isolated and confined environment studies than at other locations
  • the Mars-like environment offers the potential for analog tasks, such as geological field work by human explorers and/or robots.
The ability to select crew members to meet research needs and isolate them in a managed simulation performing under specific mission profiles makes HI-SEAS ideal for detailed studies in space-flight crew dynamics, behaviors, roles and performance, especially for long-duration missions. Taking advantage of this capability, our current research addresses one of the NASA Human Research Program's key issues: "We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions." In particular, we are conducting a ground-based investigation to measure and track the factors expected to have significant impacts on team function and performance, and assess that impact, over three high-autonomy missions of differing durations (four, eight, and twelve months).