Habitability Studies and Full Scale Simulation Research: Preliminary Themes Following HISEAS Mission IV
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The ‘Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation’ (HI-SEAS) is a long duration Mars exploration analogue study run by the University of Hawaii at Manoa, funded by NASA. The first mission started in 2013. HI-SEAS mission IV included six crew-members, three male and three female. The mission began on 28 August 2015 and was scheduled to run for a year. HI-SEAS V began on January 19th, 2017 and is scheduled for 8 months. Research conducted during the missions includes research into food preparation and preferences, behavior, crew dynamics, group performance and other relevant issues for future missions to Mars and beyond, as well as our study on habitability. This paper introduces the continuing ‘HI-SEAS Habitability Study’, which systematically investigates the relationship between the built environment (habitat) and its inhabitants. The term habitability describes the physical suitability and subjective value of a built habitat for its inhabitants within a specific environment. Along with human factors, habitability is critical for the design of an inhabited confined and isolated environment and thus the well-being of the inhabitants. The study uses a mix of methodologies for data collection, including monthly questionnaires during the mission and post mission interviews. This paper introduces the topic of full scale simulation research and its relevance for habitability studies. Further, selected topics that emerged during the HI-SEAS mission IV are discussed in more detail. It is noteworthy that each isolated and confined environment (ICE) has its own limitations and strengths as an analogue environment for the development of future habitats. Therefore, this paper puts its findings into context with other relevant research in that field.