Six scientists have successfully completed a space mission without ever setting foot in a rocket.\n\nThe crew spent eight-months cooped up in a Mars-like habitat on a barren plateau just beneath a remote Hawaiian volcano.\n\nThe data they produced should help NASA to identify the psychological profile of the people best suited to long and isolating missions, which will come in useful by 2030, when it hopes to send humans to Mars.\n\nThe future of the species\n\nSamuel Paylor, Science Officer on HI-SEAS V mission, said that @we need to send the humans out because it\u2019s important for the future of the species. I think it\u2019s actually really important to get off Earth. If you look back at the geological record, it is just full of mass extinctions.\u201d\n\nh3.\n\nDuring the experiment, run by the University of Hawaii, team members wore space suits and travelled in teams whenever they left their base.\n\nThey survived on freeze-dried food and a few vegetables grown by their biology specialist.\n\nEmerging from the cramped dome, about the size of a small two-bedroom house, the scientists were most looking forward to eating fresh fruit and eggs.\n\n1.04 end\n\nSix NASA-backed research subjects who have been cooped up in a Mars-like habitat on a remote Hawaii volcano since January emerged from isolation on Sunday.\nThey devoured fresh-picked tropical fruits and fluffy egg strata after eating mostly freeze-dried food while in isolation and some vegetables they grew during their mission.\nThe crew of four men and two women are part of a study designed to better understand the psychological impacts a long-term space mission would have on astronauts.\nThe data they produced will help NASA select individuals and groups with the right mix of traits to best cope with the stress, isolation and danger of a two-to-three year trip to Mars.\nThe US space agency hopes to send humans to the red planet by the 2030s.\nThe crew was quarantined for eight months on a vast plain below the summit of the Big Island\u2019s Mauna Loa, the world\u2019s largest active volcano.\nWhile isolated, the crew members wore space suits and travelled in teams whenever they left their small dome living structure.\nDuring the eight months in isolation, mission biology specialist Joshua Ehrlich grew fresh vegetables.\nAll of their communications with the outside world were subjected to a 20-minute delay \u2013 the time it takes for signals to get from Mars to Earth.\nThe crew was tasked with conducting geological surveys, mapping studies and maintaining their self-sufficient habitat as if they were actually living on Mars.\n\nThis hostile looking environment could well be something we\u2019d expect to see on the red planet, but it\u2019s actually a vast plain below the summit of the world\u2019s largest active volcano on a remote place called Big Island in Hawaii.\nThe crew of six men and two women are helping the NASA space agency better understand the sort of pressures humans undergo when they\u2019re thousands of miles away in space.\nThe aim is to enable NASA to be able to identify the people who are best suited to long and isolating missions, especially as it plans to send humans to Mars by 2030.\nThe project called HI-SEAS is being run by the University of Hawaii and lead investigator Professor Kim Binsted says: \u201cSo the previous three missions, the four, eight and 12 month missions, those were primarily looking at crew cohesion and performance. On this mission and going forward we are looking at crew selection and composition. So how do you pick people who are going to be good on these two and a half to three year long deep space missions.\u201d\nTo maintain the crew\u2019s sense of isolation, bundles of food and supplies were dropped off at a distance from the dome, and the team members sent out a robot to retrieve them.\nThe crew\u2019s vinyl-covered shelter is about the size of a small two-bedroom home, has small sleeping quarters for each member plus a kitchen, laboratory and bathroom. \nThey\u2019ve all shared one shower and had two composting toilets.\nDespite living off canned food and living in the cramped quarters of a space station the mission\u2019s IT specialist is optimistic about human travel to Mars.\nShe says:\u201cLong term space travel is absolutely possible. There are certainly technical challenges to be overcome. There are certainly human factors to be figured out, that\u2019s part of what HI-SEAS is for. But I think that overcoming those challenges is just a matter of effort. We are absolutely capable of it.\u201d\nThere\u2019s no doubt the crew are looking forward to feasting on fresh-picked pineapple, papaya, mango, locally-grown vegetables and fresh eggs when they emerge from their simulated space environment, but they all agree the experience has been invaluable.\nMission 5\u2019s health office Brian Ramos believes it\u2019s an opportunity the next mission candidates should grap with both hands.\nRamos says: \u201cMy advice to mission six is say, \u201cYes\u201d. If you have an opportunity whether it\u2019s filming or learning a new science skill or flying the drone, going out to a lava tube, whatever it is, say, \u201cYes\u201d, take leadership on things. Honestly you can come out of here in eight months learning a ton of stuff.\u201d\nDuring the mission all the crew\u2019s communications with the outside world were subjected to a 20-minute delay \u2013 the time it takes for signals to get from Mars to Earth.\nThe team wear specially-designed sensors to gauge their moods and proximity to other people in the small, 1,200 square-foot (111-square meter) dome where they have lived.\nThe devices monitored, among other things, their voice levels and could sense if people were avoiding one another. They could also detect if they were next to each other and arguing.\nThe crew played games designed to measure their compatibility and stress levels. And when they got overwhelmed by being in such close proximity to teach other, they could use virtual reality devices to escape to tropical beaches or other familiar landscapes.\nThe HI-SEAS crew was not confined to the dome but they were required to wear spacesuits and whenever they went outside the dome for geological expeditions, mapping studies or other tasks.\nEngineering officer Ansley Barnard has advice for dealing with the mission\u2019s most basic problems like waste.\nShe says: \u201cRemember that the toilet systems are also a system and they\u2019re a living system. So stay in balance with those, let them talk to you if they smell a certain way or act a certain way they\u2019re trying to tell you something, so listen.\u201d\nPreparations are already underway for the sixth and final study at the University of Hawaii facility called the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS. \nNASA has dedicated about $2.5 million (US) to fund the facility.\nOther Mars simulation projects exist around the world, but Hawaii researchers say one of the chief advantages of their project is the area\u2019s rugged, Mars-like landscape, on a rocky, red plain below the summit of Mauna Loa, the world\u2019s largest active volcano.\nThe success of these simulated environments shouldn\u2019t be taken for granted.\nOne notorious study in the 1990\u2019s put people in an experimental greenhouse-like habitat in Arizona.\nThe experiment soon spiraled out of control, carbon dioxide levels rose dangerously, plants and animals died. \nThe crew went hungry and squabbled so badly during the two years they spent cooped up, relationships didn\u2019t survive the mission. \n HI-SEAS is an opaque structure, not a see-through one, and it is not airtight.