Our goal as HI-SEAS crew is to get good data about food during the mission. So in addition to rehydrating food, cooking meals for six, and cleaning dishes, we will keep tabs on the ingredients we choose, the time it takes to prepare the meal, and the amount of water we use.
There will also be surveys. Daily. Questions like How hungry were you before you ate? How full to do you feel? What did you eat? How did you like it? What’s your overall mood? And more! Daily.
Finally, there will be some minimally invasive nose tests because it’s unclear how exactly an astronaut’s sense of smell might affect her feelings about food on long missions. (See nasal airflow tests and especially acoustic rhinomtery). In other words, SO MUCH DATA!
The idea with simulated Mars missions–MDRS, FMARS, Mars500, and now HI-SEAS–is to try to make them as similar as possible and practical to an actual Mars mission. Of course, these simulations are a far cry from the real thing. No arguing that. But the more elements simulated, the better the data. And it’s the data from these simulations that will give an evidence-based foundation for designing actual missions.
With that in mind, one of our jobs on this mission is to work on our own projects. Just as astronauts on Mars would have their own research responsibilities, my crew mates and I are managing our own experiments and projects. Topics include antimicrobial textiles, thermal maps of our habitat, educational outreach, robotic rovers, and remote farming. As the writer-in-residence, I will, of course, be writing. And I’ll also be studying crew sleep quality and lighting design. Details to come…