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Analog Astronaut Research

The following is a brief outline of my time as an analog astronaut at HI-SEAS.  Below you'll find information about The Mission, The Crew, The Habitat, and The Science. 

Analog astronauts simulate long-duration space missions, in geographically similar areas to the real missions that are being planned for future Moon and Mars crewed explorations.  Research duties include: organizing scientific, educational, and exploratory missions to identify problems, test in-situ resource utilization technologies, and train future astronauts.

To hear more about the preparation astronauts will have to take when living and working off of the Earth, listen to my NPR interview on the Are We There Yet? Podcast to learn more. 


The Mission

HI-SEAS stands for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. I was a part of the EMMIHS-23 "Lokahi" mission. EMMIHS-23 is the abbreviation for EuroMoonMars International MoonBase Alliance HI-SEAS 2023. We named our specific mission “Lokahi”, which means Unity in Hawaiian. As an analog astronaut, I’d be researching crew psychology in a simulated lunar habitat and eventual long-duration spaceflight Moon mission. 


Photo: Stephanie Rosales, Space Engineer

The Crew

There were 6 crew (4 Americans, 2 Belgians). The Commander is also the Director of HI-SEAS and took on a leadership and organizational role.  The Vice Commander is a music artist with a background in computer science.  The Space Engineer is a video game developer with a background in aerospace engineering.  The Chief Scientist is a microbiologist, gymnast, and previous analog astronaut, with an engineering background.  The Communication Officer is a student working on developing and testing hardware for NASA’s Artemis missions and soon-to-be NASA Mission Controller.  Finally, I was the Medical Officer with a background in Microbiology and Molecular Biology, Psychology, Veterinary Medicine, and Clinical Mental Health Counseling with this mental health practice.


The Habitat

The habitat is a 1,200-square-foot dome located on a Moon/Mars-like site on the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawai’i Island. It's about an hour's drive from the main road or any other civilization and sits at 8,200 feet in elevation.  This makes for a perfect spot to simulate Mars and Moon missions.  While on the mission, analog astronauts aren't allowed to step outside unless wearing a spacesuit for EVAs (Extravehicular Activities).  The purpose of this is to simulate Martian or Lunar living conditions where astronauts can't casually walk outside without a spacesuit.    The habitat has a kitchen, office area, lab, engineering bay, 2 compost toilets, and individual bedrooms for crew. Schedules for the crew are given on a daily basis, with wake-up time being 6:30 a.m., and bedtime being 10:00 p.m., with research throughout the day.  A minimum of one hour of exercise daily is mandatory for every crew member.  The 3 meal a day diet consists of dehydrated vegetarian food, to further simulate living in space. 


The Science

Each analog astronaut brought along a unique 1-2 set of personal experiments.  This ranged from isolating bacteria in lava tubes to testing out hardware for NASA's Artemis missions.  My personal experiments included assessing human basic needs and "The Impact of Crew Isolation and Lunar Simulation on Human Behavior". In addition, I was an on-site therapist for the crew if needed.  A combination of my own research led to assessing patterns in human needs including: Sleep, Food, Hygiene, Job Satisfaction, Social, and Fun. The results are currently being processed and evaluated for publication and future studies.  ​ My secondary experiment included creating a spacesuit using art that the crew created during the mission. As they felt inspired, the crew would paint or draw on swatches of fabric.  They could illustrate anything from the mission or from their own lives. After the mission, the art swatches will be sewn onto a flight suit and used as a mobile space art display in collaboration with The Space For Art Foundation. 


EMMIHS-23 Mission Gallery

The following photos are from the "Lokahi" EMMIHS-23 Mission.  Click the picture to see the descriptions of each. Enjoy!

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