NASA rehearsing for manned mission to Mars

NASA rehearsing for manned mission to Mars

As part of its preparations to land humans on the Martian surface sometime in the future, NASA is conducting a mission in the Mauna Ulu volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, where the terrain is really torturing like that of the Red Planet.

Just like the otherworldly Martian landscape, the Mauna Ulu volcanic landscape is twisted into ropelike coils, with rippling waves and jagged spikes; hazardous gases like sulfur are billowing from cracks in the ground; while sunlight is faint.

The mission is already underway and two ‘astronauts’ have been enduring the torturing terrain. NASA geobiologist Darlene Lim, who planned the mission, said it would help them test cruel conditions that humans would have to endure on Mars.

Though NASA has spent billions of dollars and countless hours trying to get people into space, what they actually do up there can be an afterthought. Lim wants to change that.

Speaking about the mission, Lim said, “You’re trying to keep people alive and trying to get them beyond low Earth orbit… there are experiments that are done, but the science isn't really baked in. But when we head out to somewhere like Mars, and we’re going to be there for a while … we’re going to have to look at designing these missions with an inherent component to science.”

American space agency NASA has been trudging toward its aim of launching a manned mission to the Red Planet in the 2030s. However, at the current pace of the program, it seems unlikely for the agency to meet that deadline.

Curiosity has driven 9.33 miles (15.01 kilometers) since landing inside Gale Crater in August 2012. The rover has traveled over half a mile (more than 840 meters) since leaving a region of scenic mesas and buttes named “Murray Buttes” in September 2016. Curiosity has climbed 541 feet (165 meters) in elevation from its landing site, including 144 feet (44 meters) since leaving Murray Buttes.

On the 15 rock targets drilled so far, Curiosity’s drill has used a combination of hammering and rotating action to penetrate the targets and collect sample material. The most recent drilling attempt was planned to be the first use of a non-percussive drilling method using only the drill’s rotary action. Short circuits of the percussion mechanism have occurred intermittently and predictably several times since first seen in February 2015, as per report published by Space Flight Insider