The team spent twelve months in the simulated Mars dome. Image Credit: NASA
Six scientists have been living in a dome for the last year in an effort to simulate a mission to Mars.
Journeying to Mars will undoubtedly be the most technologically challenging endeavour ever undertaken by mankind, but in addition to overcoming the physical aspects of the mission, the first humans to set foot on the Red Planet will need to cope with the psychological challenges as well.
For the last twelve months, a team of six scientists have been living and working inside a special isolated habitation facility high up on Mauna Loa mountain in Hawaii, a remote location that looks and feels a lot like the surface of another world thanks to its almost total lack of vegetation.
The 'astronauts' were tasked with managing limited resources and were only allowed outside if they wore a spacesuit - circumstances designed to mirror what it would be like living on Mars.
The team needed to co-operative and get along with one another while also dealing with extended periods of isolation from the outside world.
Now, a full year after first entering the facility, the crew has finally emerged triumphant.
"I can give you my personal impression which is that a mission to Mars in the close future is realistic," said Cyprien Verseux, who was one of the six crew members.
"I think the technological and psychological obstacles can be overcome."