‘Minor accident’ suspends Mars simulation

  • Courtesy of UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII This photo was taken during the 2013 simulation on Mauna Loa.

Officials remained tight-lipped Tuesday after a “minor accident” triggered suspension of a simulated mission to Mars taking place on the slopes of Mauna Loa.

Four crew members, one each from Australia, South Korea, Scotland and Slovakia, began the eight-month simulation Feb. 15.

One crew member was taken to Hilo Medical Center Monday morning, observed for a few hours and then released, according to the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Details of the accident were not released.

Researchers at UH-Manoa’s Space Exploration Analog and Simulation dome, located at an elevation of 8,200 feet, study human behavior of crew members confined to close quarters for long periods — as astronauts would need to be during any actual future journeys to Mars or other outer-space destinations.

A previous mission of “team cohesion” was completed successfully after a one-year duration, and other, shorter missions also have succeeded. The university has not said when the mission might resume.