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It’s not so often that NASA reaches into Central Europe and plucks out a local scientist to participate in a groundbreaking expedition, but that’s the case with Michaela Musilova, a Slovak astrobiologist. Starting next week, she will be participating in an eight-month stint on a volcano in Hawaii meant to simulate a mission on Mars, The Slovak Spectator reports.
Getting there wasn’t easy. After a process that took over a year, NASA chose the five-member crew from more than 1,000 applicants. The 28-year-old Musilova is an expert on life in extreme environments and that background should serve her well as she conducts research around the mission site, which will be on Mauna Loa, an active volcano on the island of Hawaii that reaches a height of 4,169 meters (13,679 feet). Conditions there are thought to resemble many places on Mars, says Novinky.cz, a Czech news site, and NASA is interested to test both the physical and psychological effects of such a mission on human beings.
Not making things any easier, the crew will spend most of its time in the narrow confines (11 square meters or 120 square feet) of an inflatable house.
“NASA is leading the research, so many things are kept secret. I really don’t know what to expect,” Musilova said, as quoted by Novinky.cz. “In this small space, we will work, cook, exercise, and sleep. We will have a prepared program from morning to evening, like astronauts on a space station.”
“Every member of the crew will get just eight minutes of showering a week. That’s why I preferred to sacrifice half of my hair,” she added.
“On my way to ‘Mars,’ and in style,” Musilova wrote yesterday on Facebook, as she left Slovakia. “I guess I'm still in denial about my departure from Earth, my normal life, and about all of the people that I care about and love that I'm leaving behind for quite some time.... I will miss you all dearly. Please send me regular updates over to the Red Planet, I look forward to hearing from you.”
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The Moldovan Diaries is a multimedia, interactive examination of the country's ethnic, religious, social and political identities by Paolo Paterlini and Cesare De Giglio.
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