Image credit: Michaela Musilova/HI-SEAS

Update 12/5: “I would just like to let you know that the HI-SEAS research station is safe for now. The flow that was heading in its direction, from Fissure 4, has stopped being active, at least for now.” – Michaela Musilova

Mars researchers are keeping their fingers crossed concerning the new lava flow in Hawaii – perhaps endangering the Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) site.

HI-SEAS is a Mars and Moon exploration analog research station, currently operated by the International MoonBase Alliance.

Flow front

According to a Facebook posting by Michaela Musilova, former HI-SEAS Director (2018–2022):

“I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that the HI-SEAS station will survive the current Mauna Loa eruption. It was spared a couple of days ago when a big lava flow front came within a mile of the station.”

Image credit: USGS/Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

More recently, it appeared that another flow front was coming straight towards the habitat.

Musilova reports that the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory shared an image from one of their webcams “and it does not look promising for Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation. I remain hopeful that the ridge next to the HI-SEAS habitat may protect it, but it’ll depend on a number of factors, such as the direction and speed of the lava flow(s). Here’s hoping for the best!”

Image credit: Hi-SEAS/Michaela Musilova

Analog space missions

HI-SEAS is situated at approximately 8,200 feet above sea level.

The HI-SEAS habitat is a 1,200 square foot dome located on a Mars-like site on the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawai‘i Island.

HI-SEAS has been the home to long-duration (4 to 12 month) NASA Mars simulation missions and tens of other analog space missions in collaboration with multiple space agencies, companies, and organizations worldwide.

As detailed by the HI-SEAS website, the habitat is semi-portable, low-impact and designed to have all the desirable analog features. It has a habitable volume of roughly 13,000 cubic feet, a usable floor space of approximately 1,200 square feet and small sleeping quarters for a crew of six, as well as a kitchen, laboratory, bathroom, simulated airlock and engineering bay area.

Lava tube exploration. Image credit: Michaela Musilova

Habitat risk

“As it happens, I was there in September with a group of researchers from NASA Goddard who were studying a lava tube near the habitat,” said Carol Stoker, a planetary scientist at the space agency’s Ames Research Center.

The habitat sits on a ridge created by a previous vent. The hab is a metal geodesic dome covered by a fabric cover, Stoker told Inside Outer Space.

“I suspect the biggest risk is heat from a nearby flow damaging the cover unless the old vent becomes active again.  If that happens, all is lost,” Stoker added.

Map showing the recent flow (dark red) the new flow (dotted line). The yellow dot is Hi Seas and the blue dot is the lava tube a NASA Goddard team was studying. Image credit: USGS, courtesy Carol Stoker

Credit: USGS

 

 

 

Also, go to this KITV Island Television report at:

https://www.kitv.com/news/top-stories/hi-seas-space-exploration-center-could-be-in-path-of-lava-at-mauna-loa/article_c3abae40-7150-11ed-881e-b3b7c88f800e.html

For more information on HI-SEAS, go to:

https://www.hi-seas.org/

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