The Wheeler Centre
View all episodes in this series
Life on Mars: 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.
Carmel Johnston recently finished serving as Commander of the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, where she and five other people lived in complete isolation for an entire year.
Associate Professor Duffy is an astrophysicist at Swinburne University creating baby universes on supercomputers to understand how galaxies like our Milky Way form and grow within vast halos of invisible dark matter.
He is attempting to find this dark matter as part of SABRE, the world’s first dark matter detector in the Southern Hemisphere at the bottom of a gold mine in Stawell, Victoria. He is also an Associate Investigator in two ARC Centres of Excellence investigating the origin of matter (CAASTRO-3D) and seeing the Universe with gravitational waves (OzGrav).