The HI-SEAS CREW EXITS the MARS HABITAT! August 28th, 2016 (Video here).
Astronauts who are part of long duration space flight missions (think Mars) need extra support to maintain their physical and psychological health. We are working with NASA’s Behavioral Researchers and Minnesota-based Smart Information Flow Technologies (SIFT) to develop innovative solutions for such support in social and virtual worlds. Our Phase 1 project is called ANSIBLE (A Network of Social Interactions for Bilateral Life Enhancement).
We installed the ANSIBLE world in the HISEAS Mars habitat (http://hi-seas.org/) on the big Island of Hawai’i in August 2015. Six crew members were isolated there for 12 months and had no real time communication with their friends and family for the full year. The emerged on August 28th, 2016. (Video here).
Early results indicate the use of ANSIBLE made their isolation time more interesting in several ways. Listen to one of the crew, Tristan Bassingthwaighte explain how VR will be important for future space missions. (Sorry for the sound, it was quite windy on top on the tallest volcano in the world!)
We even included a virtual version of their HI-SEAS habitat for the crew. Click here to see a virtual tour of the virtual HI-SEAS by one of the crew members.
One big technology advance we have done with the ANSIBLE virtual world is to let participants record their avatars doing something and being able to leave that message for others to hear in the asynchronous communication.
National Geographic has a wonderful article about this mission that talks about ANSIBLE.