A Purdue University doctoral student who recently completed an eight-month stay in a domed habitat says the hardest part was the isolation and the lack of "surprises and new things." Jocelyn Dunn was part of a group that lived in the dome on the slope of a Hawaiian volcano to identify issues that need to be solved before a space mission to Mars. Her research focused on health and stress of astronauts during long-term isolation, including preparing food from scratch with shelf-stable ingredients. She also achieved her personal goal: hitting golf balls off the edge of the volcano.
Dunn lived with five other researchers at an elevation of about 8,000 feet in a dome on a slope of the Mauna Loa volcano. The NASA-funded study was designed to mimic life on a Martian base. Researchers each had their own areas of focus and only left the dome while wearing a space suit. All communications were delayed 20 minutes to simulate space transmissions, and the team was monitored with surveillance cameras, body movement trackers and electronic surveys.
Another team has already begun a similar, 12-month study. Dunn says, while that research will be "exponentially more difficult," she is excited to see the results.
Dunn is an industrial engineering doctoral student at Purdue University. She earned her master’s degree in biomedical engineering in 2011 from Purdue and a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering in 2009 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
Dunn discussed her time under the dome with life sciences reporter Kylie Veleta on Inside INdiana Business Television.