July 28, 2014 9:37 pm

B.C. scientist takes part in simulated 4-month mission to Mars

VANCOUVER – Okanagan native Ross Lockwood is back on earth after a simulated four month trip to Mars.

Lockwood is a physics PHD candidate and had been living with five other scientists in a Mars Simulator on the slopes of a volcano in Hawaii.

Speaking on BC1, he said the 120 days he spent in the simulator would be just a slice of what a real mission to Mars would look like.

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“I think the crew fared really well over the course of our mission,” said Lockwood, “and I think we learned a lot about our psychology in isolation and our ability to work as a team throughout the mission.”

Lockwood said the challenges were wearing a space suit outside in Hawaii, and dealing with things like composting toilets without breaking the simulation experience.

The next step in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation (HI-SEAS) program is to do a 240 day mission in October and then a 365 day mission.

“The lessons that we learned about crew selection here will influence how they choose the crews for future missions,” said Lockwood.

Speaking of the challenges though, he said the real challenge for future missions to Mars and other planets will be in dealing with the psychological issues that arise.

“I went in thinking that the issues would be minor, and just minor disturbances, but ultimately we had a lot of challenges along the way and we learned a lot of lessons on how to deal with those,” added Lockwood. “So don’t go in expecting that it’s going to be a piece of cake.”

He said if he would go to Mars, there would have to be a return trip planned so he could come back and tell others all about it.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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