Coloradan To See What It’s Like To Spend A Year On The Red Planet

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Coloradan Simulates Mars
Andrzej Stewart at his job at Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colo., before he joined the Mars simulation project.

A Coloradan will be one of a six-member crew to learn first-hand what it might be like to spend a year on Mars.

Andrzej Stewart, who until recently, worked in space operations in Lockheed Martin's Littleton office, will join the team under a solar-powered dome on Mauna Loa, a volcanic mountain in Hawaii.

The mission is part of NASA's plan to try to get astronauts to Mars by the 2030's.

"I do believe one day, it may not be this century, it may be a few centuries from now but one day we'll have people living and working on the surface of Mars," says Stewart.

The terrain around the dome looks a lot like the surface of Mars. Crew members will have to wear space suits when they leave the dome. They will not be permitted to go beyond the designated perimeter of the property.

Much of crew's day will be taken up by experiments and chores. NASA is particularly interested in the psychological effects of putting six people together for a year isolated from the rest of society -- similar to the isolation they'd experience if they traveled to and from Mars. It's estimated that the travel time just to get to Mars would take six to nine months.

Crew members will be able to email spouses and other family members and friends, but they won't be able to see them until the year mission is over.