Six volunteers have begun a four-month assignment to live in a small dome on Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano to gauge the effects of long-time confinement in space missions.
The volunteers will largely be confined to a 1,000-square-foot space during the next round of the Hawaii Space Exploration and Analog Simulation research project.
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald says the goal is to see what problems arise when people are confined to small spaces on long missions, such as a Mars expedition.
Volunteers began their mission Friday.
The project's principal investigator, Kim Binsted, says the mission could provide insight into what's called the "third-quarter syndrome," which refers to the psychological wall people can hit on long missions.
Two later phases will follow, one lasting eight months and the other for one year.