It has been a year since Christiane Heinicke has had an egg. Or been in a car. Or gone outside without a spacesuit.

Since last August, the German physicist has been living with five other people in a 1,200-square-foot, solar-powered dome on the side of a Hawaiian volcano in an experiment in Mars-like living. The project, known as the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, ended Sunday.

Today, the crew is back in the town of Kailua-Kona to debrief and answer the big question: What advice would they give to future would-be inhabitants?

“Bring something to work on. Something meaningful to work on,” Heinicke said in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday by the University of Hawaii, which is running the NASA-funded research project. “One of your biggest enemies is boredom. The other big enemies, of course, are the rest of the crew,” she said, laughing.

The goal of HI-SEAS is to test what it would be like for people to live on Mars, and what the project designers call “team performance and cohesion” — or how a group of strangers might handle being stuck together for 12 months.

‘Mars Mission’ Crew Emerges From Yearlong Simulation In Hawaii

Photos: University of Hawai'i News and Sian Proctor/NASA HI-SEAS

Astronomers are well on their way to finding that elusive ninth planet

Astronomers are searching for a hypothetical ninth planet in the solar system. They haven’t found it yet, but the search has uncovered three smaller worlds hiding out on the edge of the solar system. With this new discovery, one astronomer, Scott Shepherd, has even given us a time-frame in which we will find the “new Pluto.”

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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 2016 

Aurora over Icelandic Fault 

Admire the beauty but fear the beast. The beauty is the aurora overhead, here taking the form of great green spiral, seen between picturesque clouds with the bright Moon to the side and stars in the background. The beast is the wave of charged particles that creates the aurora but might, one day, impair civilization. 

Exactly this week in 1859, following notable auroras seen all across the globe, a pulse of charged particles from a coronal mass ejection (CME) associated with a solar flare impacted Earth’s magnetosphere so forcefully that they created the Carrington Event. A relatively direct path between the Sun and the Earth might have been cleared by a preceding CME. What is sure is that the Carrington Event compressed the Earth’s magnetic field so violently that currents were created in telegraph wires so great that many wires sparked and gave telegraph operators shocks. Were a Carrington-class event to impact the Earth today, speculation holds that damage might occur to global power grids and electronics on a scale never yet experienced.

The featured aurora was imaged last week over Thingvallavatn Lake in Iceland, a lake that partly fills a fault that divides Earth’s large Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.

Since its back to school week. Here’s a book I recently illustrated called “ Captain Freddy counts down to school” written by Elizabeth Shreeve. 

now available!


 -It’s Freddy’s first day of school, and he needs to get ready. But school is big, it’s far away, and it’s full of strangers. Luckily, Freddy remembers he has work to do—in space! When his mom reminds him to put on his shoes, he pulls on his moon boots instead and blasts off. Captain Freddy’s adventures in space may just make him ready for his big day back on Earth.