After 378 Days, Crew Emerges From Simulated Mars

Jul 8, 2024

On June 25, 2023, researchers Kelly Haston, Anca Selariu, Ross Brockwell, and Nathan Jones allowed themselves to be sealed away on Mars. On Saturday, they returned to Earth. They did so without ever leaving our home planet. 

Haston was the mission’s leader. “It’s actually just so wonderful to be able to say ‘hello’ to you all,” she told fellow researchers and media spokespeople. She addressed them as she emerged from a 17,000-square-foot, 3D-printed enclosure. She and her team lived in it for 378 days.   

Haston and her crew were part of NASA’s first ever Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, or CHAPEA. The environment was housed inside the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The structure mimicked the surface of Mars. The goal: to see how people might survive on the Red Planet.     

“I’m grateful for the chance to live the idea that we must (use) resources no faster than they can be (refilled) and produce waste no faster than they can be processed back into resources,” Brockwell told The Associated Press (AP) of the trial. It's one that saw the team growing its own crops, running simulated “Marswalks,” dealing with equipment failures, and facing a 22-minute delay in communications with the outside world. That is the time it takes messages from Earth to reach Mars.  

NASA said CHAPEA was a success. It's planning two more trials. They're all with the idea of preparing a crew for a future manned mission to Mars.   

“Why go to Mars? Because it’s possible,” Selariu told the AP. “Because space can unite and bring out the best in us. Because it’s one defining step that ‘Earthlings’ will take to light the way into the next centuries.”    

Reflect: What do you think people can learn from living in a place that simulates another planet, and how might these lessons help us in the future?

Gif of Mars from GIPHY.

 
Question
What is the author’s main purpose for writing the story? (Common Core RI.5.6; RI.6.6)
a. to inform readers about a groundbreaking scientific experiment
b. to analyze the technical details of the Mars simulation environment
c. to describe the daily life of the researchers involved in the experiment
d. to criticize the challenges faced by space exploration programs
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