That authenticity is important, because while it’s easy, relatively speaking, to develop the hardware and procedures for a crewed mission to Mars, the health of the human passengers is an order of magnitude harder. And emotional health in particular is the hardest part. How the mind copes with the stressors associated with, what are known as, ICE environments (isolated, confined and extreme) has always bedeviled long-duration explorers.
For that reason, the Mauna Loa facility, known as HI-SEAS — for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation — was created. Co-managed by NASA and the University of Hawaii, and built by Henk Rogers, an entrepreneur, venture capitalist and video game developer (he counts Tetris among his inventions), HI-SEAS first went into operation in 2012 and had already hosted two crews for four months and one for eight months before this recent mission.