Optimizing Waste Reduction at NASA-Funded Mars Simulation Habitat

HI-SEAS Mission V, the Earth-based Mars simulation habitat implemented by the University of Hawaii and funded by NASA, uses ESTECO software to optimize resources used by the crew during their analog isolation at Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.

Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS), a NASA-funded research project aimed to help determine the individual and team requirements for long-term space exploration missions, uses ESTECO‘s modeFRONTIER to develop system models for life on Mars.

The HI-SEAS Habitat. Image courtesy of Sian/University of Hawaii. The HI-SEAS Habitat. Image courtesy of Sian/University of Hawaii.

HI-SEAS V is an 8-month Mars analog isolation mission that began on Jan. 19, 2017.  Another 8-month mission is scheduled to start in January 2018. During Mission V, six researchers are studying human behavior on “Mars” by living in a geodesic dome in the isolated environment of Mauna Loa volcano on the Hawaiian Big Island, including 20-minutes delayed communication and partial self-sufficiency. Their purpose is to directly address the IRP Team Risk: “Risk of Performance Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team.”

“On a space mission, the astronaut crew is very limited on what they can bring along. Every item you send on a rocket needs to be weight and size efficient, including food, water, research materials, and personal effects. When you are traveling far away, like a manned mission to Mars, you need more supplies and you have to burn more fuel to get everything there—this makes resource optimization even more challenging,” says Ansley Barnard, the engineering officer for Mission V in charge of monitoring life support systems.

View of Kitchen the day the crew arrived. Image courtesy of Sian/University of Hawaii. View of Kitchen the day the crew arrived. Image courtesy of Sian/University of Hawaii.

Before joining HI-SEAS, Barnard worked in engineering optimization at Ford Motor Company where she worked with ESTECO optimization technology.

Parametric modeling and optimization software tools like modeFRONTIER provide us with faster and more robust ways to optimize. modeFRONTIER is an easy to learn tool with a lot of built-in capability and modular flexibility,” she adds.

Barnard says that tools like modeFRONTIER can help the Mission in modeling systems. Her goal is to help provide future HI-SEAS crews with updated engineering information on the habitat life support systems.

For more information, visit ESTECOHI-SEAS and NASA.

Sources: Press materials received from the company.

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