Ask Me Anything Space.com Goes to Mars! AMA about life as an analog astronaut

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Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Oct 21, 2019
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In November, 2020, I "left Earth" for a mission to "Mars." I spent two weeks living on the side of a volcano at the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) research facility on the slopes of Mauna Loa on the Big Island of Hawai'i.

For two weeks, my five crewmates and I ate nothing but shelf-stable Martian food (everything dehydrated or freeze-dried), worked on exploratory research and ventured out into lava tubes fully suited up in spacesuits.

Friday, Space.com premiered a mini-documentary about my experience as an analog astronaut, showing what it really means to complete a simulated mission like this. Leading up to that, I thought I'd host an AMA about going to "Mars," as an analog astronaut.

Ask away!

While you're at it, check out the documentary, OUT NOW!:
View: https://youtu.be/PKir1bIRQrc
 
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Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Amazing to have you with us!

Did you take anything special with you on your mission? :D
I did! I took a small sketch notebook to draw and make art in my (limited) free time, and my travel guitar so I could write and play music in the "hab," which was great because I ended up being able to put on a "Mars concert" for my crewmates which was a welcome break for everyone
 
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Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Are there plans for extended "missions" in the future? What kind of timeline are they looking at?

-Wolf sends
Actually, the first mission at HI-SEAS was a whopping four months long and there are extended missions both there and at other analog facilities around the world. From my experience and understanding, each analog mission is proposed by the researchers and they work with what the facility has available and is capable of. So if a team of researchers had a solid proposal for a longer-duration mission I'm sure at some facility they could make that happen.
 

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Oct 21, 2019
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Were you weightless? Or at least in reduced gravity?
That is one of the aspects of the mission that, at least currently, we couldn't replicate at the facility. There are certainly researchers who do work in weightless environments on parabolic flights, for instance. So, in a way, those are analog experiments. But we were fully grounded for our mission.
 
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Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Oct 21, 2019
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I've always wondered why Antarctica isn't being used (or is it) as a simulated Martian environment. I suspect temperatures would be similar and the need for suits (heated and simulated pressurized) would be obvious.

-Wolf sends
There is actually a research station in Antarctica, and space research missions on sailboats to Antarctica do happen fairly routinely. It's an extreme environment so it would be challenging to set up a HI-SEAS-like habitat there but certainly researchers use Antarctica for research.
 

Wolfshadw

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Thank you for taking the time with us. Just one final question from me.

1200sqft isn't a lot of space for six people. I realize you were kept pretty busy for most of your mission, but during your down-time, didn't you feel the need to "escape"? Not from the hab, but from your crew mates; even for just a few minutes?

-Wolf sends
 

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
Staff member
Oct 21, 2019
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Thank you for taking the time with us. Just one final question from me.

1200sqft isn't a lot of space for six people. I realize you were kept pretty busy for most of your mission, but during your down-time, didn't you feel the need to "escape"? Not from the hab, but from your crew mates; even for just a few minutes?

-Wolf sends
hah, a great question! We actually had a lot of stormy weather so we were stuck inside for even more time than we would normally be, we didn't get to do many EVAs or spacewalks out to the lava tubes. I think we were so busy that at least for me I didn't feel that need to escape too badly. We had such little downtime that I was OK with just chilling for a minute or drawing/doing music instead of "escaping." Doing art and music also helped to ease that feeling because it was a creative escape. One thing that was also great is, even though it's a tiny space, we each had our own little bunks with doors on the front. So even though the room is tiny, we could have a bit of privacy if we just needed a minute to focus on work alone or just isolate ourselves.
 
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You are the greatest woman on earth and in Universe to do Mars Mission or other missions.

If you are the person who will visit Mars:

HOPE YOU WILL FIND WATER THERE, DOING OXYGEN FOR SURVIVING AND Much More.

MAY YOUR TARGET BE ACCOMPLISHED.

I WISH YOU THE BEST OF THE BEST, Health, Luck, Surviving and Prosperity.

Maybe the colony team there will plant on Mars in some soils underneath the grounds of some little water beneath rocks resort.

You should take a lot of food healthy pills, cure, medicine box, music, entertainment stuffs because the trajectory is too far.

The oxygen costume suite should be done with a lot of extreme protection anti fire anti freeze anti UV light specially for temperature conditions and antibrokens glass mixed from diamond because of the carbonic dioxide & nitrogen Ozone, the oxygen is epsilon in the atmosphere. No breath at all and little astreiods.

Maybe some of your team will take with you a nuclear weapons that will be used there for Hydrogen fusion to change weather ambiance on Mars so from Lightening, electromagnetic fields and chemicals explosions it could metamorph to rain water in some territories.

You should take a lot of care of the giant storm.

Choose the best landing target. Nasa with colaboration with space X can send some robotic machine SUVs, industrial oxygen blocks makers after perseverance for transportation to escape places before sending human to Mars.

I wish Mars become the second planet to Lives On or Maybe we are from Mars and we came Here. Nobody knows!!!!

Good Luck for You and for everybody in that mission.

Best wishes forever.
 
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Jun 23, 2020
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Thank you in advance for taking one more question from me: Do male and female astronauts ever become attracted to one another? You know....romantically?
 

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Oct 21, 2019
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Thank you in advance for taking one more question from me: Do male and female astronauts ever become attracted to one another? You know....romantically?
Not on a mission that would be unprofessional and there would be issues with power dynamics. The astronaut corps is fairly large though and there have been astronauts who have gotten married like Megan McArthur and Bob Behnken.
 
Mar 6, 2021
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I know there is special tents that prevent very high frequency from passing through and my question is - would it be saver to pitch up camp in the lava tube ?Since there are many dust devils and high radiation in the open area.
 
Mar 7, 2021
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I'm a male. I'd love to follow mankind's dreams to the stars, but due to the expenses of interstellar flight (such as fuel, time, food production, etc. ) and the likelihood that humans will want to be fruitful, multiply and populate the targeted solar system when we arrive, I don't think males will be onboard interstellar vessels. Starships will travel with a few vials of semen instead of men - no food growing expenses, no oxygen scrubbing costs, no fuel costs, etc. for those vials in the cabinet.

I realize Mars is a local planet, not a distant star. Yet in the event of disaster befalling planet Earth (war, meteor strike...), and a hurried exit of a crew going to the Red Planet for sake of human species survival, the same crew-selection constraints might apply to a Mars mission.

Chelsea, your mission involved five women. Did you crew members discuss the likely female prerogative that may indeed come with space travel?
 
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Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd

Chelsea "Foxanne" Gohd, senior writer at Space.com
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Oct 21, 2019
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I know there is special tents that prevent very high frequency from passing through and my question is - would it be saver to pitch up camp in the lava tube ?Since there are many dust devils and high radiation in the open area.
Hi Ricardo. I'm not sure what you men by high frequency, I'm assuming you're referring to radiation exposure. While our analog habitat is fairly safe on the side of the volcano here on Earth, researchers are exploring using lava tubes like the ones we explored on Mars for future settlers on Mars to stay safe from radiation.
 
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I'd like to hear some of that guitar work, check out mine at <<Personal information removed by moderator>>
I have heard that space suits wont protect you from eventual cancers from being on mars with no atmosphere...living in the ground could work for protection if you stayed there...what's the solution for that?
 
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IG2007

"Don't criticize what you can't understand..."
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Hello there! I am so glad that I can ask this question to you, I have followed each and every video and article of yours. My question is that, how, according to your opinion, will future Astronauts to Mars survive the dust storms of Mars? And how will future unmanned vehicles survive the dust storms?
 
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Vector, see thread Where would you travel to if you had an extrasolar spacecraft? Post #18 (under Solar System) for time factors in star travel. Correction.

Cat :)
Yeah, the numbers you posted are daunting. Fuel is a humongous consideration too. Somewhere I read that the fuel requirements to send a starship as small as a big Boeing or Airbus plane from here to Proxima Centauri would outstrip all of the energy the USA ever produced or used, counting more than a century of cars & wars and rush hours of traffic, etc.

And Cat your point is well taken about the need to slow down when entering a solar system. Imagine hurtling through the Oort cloud at full speed.

Once upon a time JBS Haldane pointed out that "If you go flying across the galaxy at half the speed of light and you hit an iron basketball, you've got problems."
 
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This voyage to Mars is supposed to be a simulation of what life will be like on the Red Planet. First, to get to Mars is a seven month long journey. Do the astronauts have enough food, water, air and a change of threads, or do you wear the same clothes for the duration of the trip? What is it like to travel to Mars in a tin Can? Not a lot of room to move. Once on the surface of Mars, how much radiation will astronauts be subjected to? Can we actually be safe on the planet surface? How much radiation is the rovers subjected to, they are highly shielded against radiation, will astronauts have that much shielding? When astronauts fly around Earth and land back on good old terra firm, they have to be aided till they get their Earthly legs. Who will aid these astronauts as the became acclimated to gravity? It show astronauts bouncing freely after seven moths of interplanetary travel, in a gravity free zone. What will astronauts really be like after traveling to Mars? Are thse simulations of real scientific necessity, or is it just public relations?
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
Feb 18, 2020
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Yes. Life on Mars would not be easy. There has to be a contingent. We circle the galaxy and there is a strong suggestion that some areas (volumes) of the galaxy may be hazardous, effects of dark matter, increased bombardment, etcetera.
Going to Mars (to live) would not solve the above, but it would help to solve asteroid impact. This is a problem if humanity is to survive.
The good news (?!?) is that humanity will probably have killed itself off long before a possible dinosaur extinction repeat. We have maybe 100 years left at the present rate.
As has been pointed out, life on Mars would not be easy. Star colonisation is really not an option. Here is just the summary:
Quote
Thus 4.3 light years at 1% speed of light would take 25.8 x 10^13 divided by 6.7 x 10^6 or 3.85 x 10^7 hours, or 1.6 x 10^6 days or 4383.56 years. Of course, getting up to speed and slowing down would add to the time, but I think we can probably neglect these. We have shown elsewhere that light sails are out.
Any other ideas?
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Cat :)
 
Apr 5, 2021
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How long would you plan to stay on the planet in first couple of missions given that Mars and Earth orbit alignment and travel time varies. Thanks
 

Catastrophe

The devil is in the detail
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Whom are you addressing? If me, then I would not go at all.
If you mean how long are you constrained to stay there, it must be several months before Earth - Mars alignment is correct.

Cat :)
 
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