A long time ago on a faraway Hawaiian island, aspiring astronaut James Bevington lived in one of the closest environments of Mars we have created on Earth.
The 30-year-old freelance researcher was one of six leading scientists and engineers who undertook the epic eight-month mission in a barren volcanic wasteland.
It was a dream for the PhD student of the University of New South Wales when he entered the 365-square-foot dome on Mauna Loa last year to become Commander of Mission 5 for HI-SEAS
Cut off from friends and family the intrepid six-person team of freeze-dried "space food", while they were engaged in geological surveys and mapping studies.
Mr. Bevington told news.com.au from the US that, despite the isolation, life has become almost normal for him after a few weeks of adjustment.
"It's more normal than you think," he said. "We lived a very balanced lifestyle with lots of work, but also enough time to have fun together.
" We did things that Mars astronauts would do, such as exploration, science, and repairs. "
In fact, he said this connection with the other five researchers is the most incredible and eye-opening aspect of the entire mission." The best thing about meeting my crewmates was, "he said." We were friends, colleagues and Roommates, so you get to know all sides of the crew.
"For most of us, we learn one or two pages of people in our lives, but nothing like that."
This attachment was important because the mission was part of a NASA-funded study that measured the psychological impact better understand a long-term space mission on astronauts.
During their downtime, the crew played board games and watched movies. But the team also spent a lot of time doing everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning and exercising. Exercise was especially important because their bones on Mars would decay without it.
All the while, they were strapped down with sensors that captured the volume of their voices and closeness to others.
The data allowed researchers to determine whether humans
It is hoped that the results will persuade NASA to select individuals who are "most likely" to cope with the isolation and stress of traveling to Mars Getting ready to take two to three years The agency plans to travel to the Red Planet in the 2030s, and Mr. Bevington believes his experience shows that we will not kill each other if we ever get to Mars ,
"We demonstrated how a crew can live on Mars," he said, "There is the notion that life is guaranteed like a Mars crew, but that was not our experience.
"What we have learned is not only useful for space travel, but also for teams of all kinds." It's the first time I experience life, as it's the majority of people in the past has done small, self-sufficient groups. "
The crew could contact the outside world, but with 20 minutes delay It takes time for a signal to reach Earth from Mars.
That is, they could not talk on the phone, use Skype, or use Google to hurry up
Despite the isolation and the freeze-dried roast chicken, Mr. Bevington said that the hardest aspect of life on "Mars" is not finding online information.
But the crew was far from close
"We had a lot to do," he said, "There is a perception that we've just been sitting around, but that could not be further from the truth. We had the same time as astronauts on the International Space Station, so we stayed busy. Fortunately, they did not have to fertilize the Martian soil to raise food with their own feces, like the Hollywood hero Matt Damon in The Marsian .
Food and supplies were deposited some distance from the dome and the crew made an exploratory mission to find them.
And future space gourmets are in luck because, as Mr. Bevington says, the food is not nearly as bad as you might think.
"The food was alright," he said. "I ate better (in the dome) than out here because we ate a meal together every night.
"Our crew liked roast chicken because we had to stick the freeze-dried cubes together with the breadcrumbs to make it fried as well."
It sounds like space food is better than average food in one Plane. But if you are excited about the prospect of an interplanetary holiday, you may want to put your plans on ice.
Mr. Bevington said nobody knows exactly how long it will take for tourists to visit Mars. "Mars is not easy, but it's not impossible," he said. "It's a matter of public concern and funding."
"If the world decided to spend less on military and more on space exploration, it would not take long.