NASA volunteers complete year-long mission in 3D-printed Mars bunker in Texas | US News

NASA volunteers who spent over a year in a simulated Mars bunker have completed their mission.

After 378 days in a 3D-printed, Mars-imitation bunker in Texas, Kelly Haston, Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell and Nathan Jones were set free Saturday around 10pm UK time.

Speaking at a news conference after they were allowed back into the world, Ms Selariu said bringing life to Mars was the “one thing dearest to my heart”.

She said her “beloved friends and family have always been there when I needed them” and she will “always have them in my heart and in my memory wherever I go”.

The volunteers were a part of NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) mission, which began on 25 June last year.

The volunteers going into the bunker last year. Pic: NASA
Image:
The volunteers going into the bunker last year. Pic: NASA

From left to right: Anca Selariu, Nathan Jones, Ross Brockwell, Kelly Haston. Pic: NASA/CHAPEA
Image:
From left to right: Anca Selariu, Nathan Jones, Ross Brockwell, Kelly Haston. Pic: NASA/CHAPEA

Over that time, they simulated Mars mission operations, including “Marswalks”, grew and ate their own vegetables including tomatoes, peppers, and leafy greens, maintained their equipment and lived under realistic Mars circumstances, NASA said.

This included a communication delay with Earth, limited resources and isolation.

The crew is the first of three to undertake such missions at the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas.

The 3D-printed structure, known as the Mars Dune Alpha, has been described as “an isolated 1,700 square foot habitat”.

This marks the end of the first planned programme, attempting to help prepare the US space agency for the real thing.

NASA is still planning for a return to the Moon – which they hope will act as a springboard for Mars exploration.

Some of the tomatoes grown by the CHAPEA mission 1 crew. Pic: NASA/CHAPEA crew
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Some of the tomatoes grown by the CHAPEA mission 1 crew. Pic: NASA/CHAPEA crew

Inside the bunker. Pic: NASA/Bill Stafford
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Inside the bunker. Pic: NASA/Bill Stafford

What they may have missed:

While they had delayed communication with NASA, those taking part in the mission may not have been kept up to date with what has been going on around the world.

Here are some of the events they may have missed since they were locked away:

The CHAPEA crew celebrates the birthday of Ross Brockwell, left. Pic: NASA/CHAPEA crew
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The CHAPEA crew celebrates the birthday of Ross Brockwell, left. Pic: NASA/CHAPEA crew

• Hamas attacked Israel on 7 October, killing around 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages, Israel said. Israeli forces responded by invading Gaza, and so far more than 38,000 Palestinians have been killed, the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said.
• While climate change won’t be anything new to the imitation-Mars inhabitants, global temperature records were quite emphatically shattered while they were completing their mission.
• Donald Trump became the first former US president to be criminally convicted after a New York jury found him guilty of falsifying business records to commit election fraud.
• When the volunteers went into the programme, South Koreans were a year or two older than they now are after the country dropped its traditional age counting system to move it in line with the rest of the world.
• While they missed a lot of music, movies and popular culture, the biggest moment they may have missed could have been the premiere of Barbie and Oppenheimer in cinemas.
• The Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed after a tanker ran into it.
• They spent more time locked up than Lord David Cameron did in his role as foreign secretary after his shock return to UK politics.
• Wikileaks founder Julian Assange entered a plea deal with the US to be found guilty of one federal charge in exchange for his release back to Australia. He was freed the next day.

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