Interest in Mars is at its highest in years, thanks in part to the success of the book and film "The Martian," and to boosting from private entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, whose SpaceX hopes to launch a manned-mission to the planet by 2024
The University of Hawaii experiment, which is funded by NASA, is the third so far conducted. Previous missions
lasted four and eight months, respectively.
A similar experiment has also been conducted by the European Space Agency
, in Concordia, Antarctica, and in Moscow, where crew members warned
of sleep and psychological issues.
"I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome," Cyprien Verseux said after emerging from the Hawaiian Mars.
Fellow crewmember Christiane Heinicke added she was amazed she could draw water from the "little greenhouse construct" in their simulated environment. She said that the success of this experiment suggested that it might even be possible to use similar methods to get water on Mars, which is notorious for being completely dry.
The University of Hawaii is currently recruiting for crew members to take part in its next two missions, scheduled to begin in 2017 and 2018.