On Hawaii's volcanic terrain at an elevation of 8,000 feet, a crew of six people live in a small dome for four-months.
Funded by NASA, the University of Hawaii is conducting a series of these missions to study what challenges people would expect to face living with a small group of people and what foods to eat, all in preparation for future manned missions to Mars.
The second HI-SEAS mission is currently taking place and the six crew members have been living together in the dome on Hawaii since March 28th.
Chief Technologist Ross Lockwood and US Air Force Major Casey Stedman have been documenting their time in the dome on Instagram, giving us a glimpse into life on a simulated Mars mission:
Here's Lockwood packing for the four-month mission:
Lockwood depicted his "lasts" before entering the dome:
The crew also got to briefly explore Hawaii, during a geology lesson, before entering the dome and beginning their mission:
"Doooome, dome on the range..."
The two-story dome is where the crew eats and sleeps for four months...
It includes an exercise room, a kitchen, and small sleeping quarters.
The sleeping quarters of Lockwood, the proud Canadian:
Throughout the four months, Lockwood has posted many pictures of the view of the dome:
"Perhaps our view on Mars is directed towards Ascraeus Mons."
"Sunset on Mars"
Much of the HI-SEAS crew's mission revolves around food, as they experiment with what astronauts might eat during deep-space missions and when they arrive on Mars.
The crew eats pre-prepared foods, which are like what astronauts currently eat in space, and concocted new meals in an attempt to combat malnourishment and general food boredom.
Throughout the mission, the food seemed to get progressively more delicious:
The crew also experiments with growing vegetables under electrical lightning:
The crew managed to successfully grow lettuces, radishes, peas, and even cherry tomatoes.
The crew does other work inside the dome. Here Lockwood is working on a podcast:
"Designing and printing some useful tools for sMartians on EVA."
The crew also does work out in the field:
Crew members are required to wear their space suits each time they leave their dome and venture onto the northern slope of Mauna Loa — an active volcano that last erupted in 1984.
"Beautiful day for a GigaPan survey mission on sMars."
Despite their intimate quarters, the crew definitely seems to be enjoying themselves:
Lockwood making jokes:
"The 3 Americans of the 2nd #HISEAS crew celebrate #IndependenceDay"
Lockwood also sent messages to those he missed, including his partner and kitten:
While Stedman displayed his "motivation."
And always talk of food:
"Burgers by Tiffany"
The crew found many different ways to entertain themselves, including karaoke...
And pulling a few pranks:
The crew "returns to earth" on July 25. They may be disoriented after their trip and will spend time debriefing.
If you're interested, check out the call for research applications for the next HI-SEAS mission, which is set to start in October 2014 and will run for eight months.