Scientists Begin Year-Long Stay in Hawaii Dome to Learn About Space Travel

Researchers to study crew's performance to prep for possible trips to Mars.

— -- Six scientists began their year-long stay in a solar-powered dome to help researchers learn what space travelers would endure while heading to Mars.

The 365-day experiment started Friday on Mauna Loa, a Hawaiian volcano, according to the University of Hawaii. It's the fourth and longest mission run by the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS).

The experiment focuses on the crew's cohesion and performance to help determine the best way to travel to Mars and back, which is an estimated three-year journey, the University of Hawaii said.

"The longer each mission becomes, the better we can understand the risks of space travel," said Kim Binsted, HI-SEAS principal investigator. “We hope that this upcoming mission will build on our current understanding of the social and psychological factors involved in long duration space exploration."

The study is funded by NASA.