NASA is keeping 4 people in a tiny cabin for a month, because science
The path to space is pretty cramped.
By Fiona MacDonald

The US space agency has just announced that it’ll be sticking four volunteers inside a tiny house for 30 days, as part of an experiment to test how isolation and “close quarters” affect people’s behaviour. Once inside, the volunteers can’t leave the cabin, and will only be able to regularly communicate with each other and NASA mission control (that means no Internet).

It sounds pretty uncomfortable, but if we want to make it further into space - all the way to Mars, for example - people are going to have to live in cramped spaces for months at a time with very little contact with the outside world, and scientists need to be able to predict the effects - including every little thing that could go wrong.

The compact, three-storey house that the volunteers will be living in is called the Human Research Exploration Analog (HERA), and it’s what NASA is calling a “science-making house”. That means there are lots of little experiments on board to keep the team occupied, like plants to grow and tiny shrimp to take care of.