A long experiment conducted by NASA aims to provide scientists with information that will be invaluable for astronauts who reach the planet Mars. This experiment will last a year, and it's the longest of this kind undertaken by the US Space agency so far.

A crew of six volunteers will live for 12 months in a dome with a diameter of 11 m and a height of 6 m.This dome is located in the northern part of Hawaii's main island, close to the Mauna Loa volcano, and its doors have already closed.

According to fr.news.yahoo.com the six volunteers are a German physicist, a French astrobiologist and four American citizens including a pilot, an architect, a doctor- journalist and a researcher who specializes in analysing solutions.

The volunteers - three women and three men - will each have their own room with a bed and a small office. They will also have access to the internet. They will only eat freeze-dried food throughout the experiment. Furthermore, they will only leave the dome dressed in space suits, as if they really lived on Mars.

Sheyna Gifford, a member of the team, said that she and the other five people taking part in the experiment want to change the world. Architect Tristan Bassingthwaighte, another participant, said that he wants to improve the ability of people to live in extreme environments both on Earth and on other planets. Another, 25-year-old Cyprien Verseaux, is doing a PhD at the University of Rome and wants to explore ways to build an outpost on Mars. The outpost will be as independent from Earth as possible, and to provide food for its occupants raw materials found on Mars will be transformed into consumable products.

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Astronauts who reach Mars in the future will first have to participate in missions in space much longer than those on board the International Space Station (ISS). These missions last only six months. A human mission to Mars could take between one and three years. Currently, NASA can only send robotic missions to Mars.These probes take about eight months to reach their destination.

The experts say that survival for such a long time in an isolated place without intimacy can lead to conflicts. During a mission that lasted eight months many conflicts erupted between crew members. Therefore, NASA wants to gather as much information as possible about the psychological evolution of the members of such an isolated mission before trying to send the first astronauts to Mars. They hope to be able to launch the first manned Mars mission in 2030.