If you can't make it to Mars, Hawaii is the next big thing.
On Friday, the second Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation mission (Hi-SEAS 2) will come to an end on Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano. On March 28, six crew members went there to live in a 36-foot wide, solar-powered structure meant to mimic a "Mars habitat," Space.com reports. During their four months on "Mars," the crew worked on improving space walks, looked at how plants grow under different wavelengths of light, and even took treks in fake spacesuits, the only time they left their home.
(Facebook/Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation)
The point of Hi-SEAS is to "test what will be necessary for future astronauts to live on the surface of Mars for an extended period of time," Cmd. Casey Steadman, an officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, wrote in a blog post. "The challenges future human missions to Mars will face are not easily duplicated on Earth. But through careful planning, analog studies can simulate some [of] the factors in order to better prepare us."