6 Researchers Found Out What Life on Mars Would Really Be Like, and It’s Not What You’d Expect

At some point, the idea of living on Mars will no longer be a dream. Researchers are taking massive steps towards a future of real Martian frontiersmen. A group of researchers has actually ‘lived on Mars’ for a year to see what the trappings of martian life would be like.

Their research is going to be extremely valuable when we actually send humans to the Martian surface. Take a look at their experiment and get a glimpse of what ‘living on Mars’ would actually be like.

The HI-SEAS experiment is out of this world

A member of the HI-SEAS Organization in front of the large white dome.

The University of Hawaii conducted an interesting experiment. | HI-SEAS Organization

If you have ever had the privilege of hiking to the top of some of Hawaii’s largest volcanoes, you would have felt like you were on another planet. The faculty at the University of Hawaii definitely did, and that’s why they chose the area to perform a unique experiment. The experiment was named the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS.

They built a geodesic dome that would be similar to the habitat needed for a Mars mission and locked six researchers in there for a year. They wanted to find out what challenges life on Mars would present and how they could better prepare for living there.

Next: Take a look at how hard it would actually be to live there. 

Time is on a whole new spectrum

Hawaiian mountains seen from a distance.

It felt like a completely different world. | HI-SEAS Organization

On Earth, we have so many signals reminding us of the passing of time. There are clocks, birds, seasons, lights, rush hour, and so on. We never really get a break from that. On Mars, there’s nothing. You don’t get seasons. You don’t hear traffic or birds. That experience was duplicated on the HI-SEAS project because of the areas desolation.

Sheyna Gifford, the Chief Medical, and Safety Officer on the HI-SEAS project says that your perception of time changes. “[time] started to expand and contract in strange ways,” Gifford told Jared Leto, director of Beyond the Horizon. “All of a sudden, weeks seem like a day,” Gifford continued, “and then a month seemed like a week.” At the end of the project, none of them felt like they had been gone for a year.

Next: Problem-solving can be a serious problem.

You had better get along with your peers

HI-SEAS members inside their suits.

The researchers spent a lot of time together. | HI-SEAS Organization

The HI-SEAS habitat is only 1200 square feet. If you’re having problems with a roommate, you can’t just go for a walk. In that tight of a living space, you have to confront your problems with one another head-on. Knowing how to do that before we go to actual Mars will be extremely valuable.

Next: Having this one thing will help you through the mission to Mars.

Having a project with meaning is everything

Researchers from the HI-SEAS Organization inside their suits.

An amazing opportunity for the students and researchers. | HI-SEAS Organization

For the same reason we mentioned before, you have to bring a project that has meaning or purpose. It will be the thing that gets you going in the morning and help you through harder times. Those types of distractions can reinforce your sense of purpose and propel you through the mission.

When Christiane Heinicke emerged from the HI-SEAS habitat, she posted a video on twitter describing some things. In it, she said “Bring something to work on. Something meaningful to work on … One of your biggest enemies is boredom.” She jokingly continued “The other big enemies, of course, are the rest of the crew.”

Next: Some of the simplest things we take for granted.

You can’t just run to the corner store

Researchers of the HI-SEAS organization in a market.

Food and supply runs aren’t everyday occurrences. | HI-SEAS Organization

When you get to Mars, you have what you have. There isn’t a corner store you can run too or a tool that you can run and grab. You have to be able to use what you have.

In one instance, the water treatment and gathering system broke down. The team had to work together to fix that problem. For their simulated mission, they received water every two months and food every four months. Having a system go down like that could end up killing them.

Next: If you ever do go to Mars, don’t expect to be able to just come home when you want. 

You will lose loved ones when you’re on Mars

Sheyna Gifford's selfie.

Gifford wasn’t able to communicate easily with her family during an emergency. | Sheyna Gifford via Instagram

When you move to another planet, getting home for a sudden or even expected loss in the family is impossible. Gifford lost her grandmother while she was on simulated Mars. Her mother tried to hide it from her, but her cousins were able to fill her in. For the sake of the project, she stayed in the habitat and sent videos to her grandmother as she fell ill.

Mars is constantly moving farther or closer to us. That means that messages take a while to get to Earth and you can’t just pick up the phone to chat with someone. It can take anywhere from 4 to 24 minutes for a message to reach Earth.

Next: There’s more to this mission than just colonizing another planet or even having a humanity backup.

There’s more to Mars than just plan-B

The dome seen in Hawaii from a distance.

The research will be helpful to future generations. | HI-SEAS Organization

The idea of colonizing Mars has been, for a lot of people, a way to make a carbon copy of our species. A way to guarantee humanity in the event of a catastrophe. But Gifford has a more romantic and way of looking at our future on Mars. She told Beyond the Horizon that Mars is ” not a backup and it never will be. But if we can make it there, we can make it here.”

These quests inspire our best selves and the only true spirit of cooperation and peace comes from this great journey. One day we will all be huddled in front of the TV watching the first human take steps on another planet. Our hope is that it is akin to the experience that many had in the 60’s for the moon landing. A worldwide sense of pride and hope. The endeavor offers us something that nothing has ever been able to bring us on this planet: Peace.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!