Part of a podcast series

The Wheeler Centre

View all episodes in this series

Life on Mars: Carmel Johnston

Listen to Life on Mars: Carmel Johnston

Photo of Carmel Johnston

Carmel Johnston, an environmental scientist, was the crew commander of NASA’s most recent Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) project. As part of this mission, she spent an entire year living with five other scientists in an 11-metre-wide geodesic dome on the Mars-like slopes of Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii.

The focus of the study, which concluded in August last year, was psychological. NASA wanted to learn individual stress reactions and group cohesion in an intensely cramped, isolated environment comparable to life in a space vessel on Mars. The researchers had to wear full space suits any time they left the dome, and resources were painstakingly rationed and recycled.

In conversation with astronomer Alan Duffy, Johnston reveals what she learned about group dynamics, freeze-dried food and social survival in a space dome.

Presented in partnership with WOMADelaide’s Planet Talks Programme.

The Wheeler Centre

Subscribe to the Wheeler Centre's podcast to hear full recordings of our talks – featuring the best in books, writing and ideas.