When I was a kid I used to love to sit on the rickety stairs of our old rental house at night, look up at stars and wonder who was out there. Years before I heard the old Carl Sagan line, “The universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space,” I used to think something like this. Could it be that in all the endless lightyears of space, all the beautiful clusters and galaxies, we are the only sentient beings? I loved all things Star Trek and sci fi and I was sure one day I’d get to go up there and look around for myself.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I was probably born a century or two too early for that. Regular, accessible space travel will not become available to the masses in my lifetime, a realization that still has the power to make me sad. That’s why I was so delighted to hear of the University of Hawaii’s HI-SEAS experiment on Mauna Loa, in which six scientists lived for a year in a dome in a remote area of Hawaii to simulate a Mars mission. They set up the same rules that would apply if they’d been on Mars – no going outside the dome without a space suit, eat only what they had packed, limited communication with friends and family on a 20-minute delay. It sounds awesome!
It’s not exactly The Jetsons quite yet, but it’s a thrilling experiment. And, guess what? They’re accepting applicants for the next mission! Now wouldn’t that be some awesome research for a novel: Click here to apply.