Mars simulation cancelled after crew member withdraws

The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation site is seen on Mauna Loa. Courtesy of University of Hawaii.

The University of Hawaii’s Mars simulation on Mauna Loa was cancelled Monday after one of the four crew members withdrew.

The latest eight-month-long mission was suspended Feb. 19, five days after it begun, after a male crew member of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation was transported to Hilo Medical Center. The crew member was observed for a few hours and released, according to UH, which hasn’t released additional information.

UH spokeswoman Kelli Abe Trifonovitch said she didn’t know if the person who withdrew was the same as the person who was in the hospital.

All crew members left the HI-SEAS dome at 8,200 feet above sea level when the mission was suspended.

UH said the mission will restart with a new crew after an incident investigation is complete.

The NASA-funded simulations study human behavior and crew compatibility during extended periods of isolation. Participants are sealed in the dome for the duration and can only venture outside while wearing space suits or other protective gear.

The latest simulation was the sixth to be held on Mauna Loa.