The Bizarre Beliefs of Astronomer Percival Lowell
As Space.com's Calla Cofield reports, the six crew members were participating in the Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue and Simulation project, or HI-SEAS. They lived together during the mock mars mission in a self-sufficient habitat for 12 months, limiting their contact with family and friends and spending their days in isolation that, at times, proved challenging.
HI-SEAS is all about preparing Earthlings for long-duration life on Mars. Since the planet is nearly 34 million miles away, it won't exactly be easy for red-planet inhabitants to interact with folks back home. Each HI-SEAS mission pits a crew of six against the isolation and lack of stimulation of a manmade habitat that simulates how people might live in on Mars. Resupply missions were rare, and participants had to don spacesuits when they left the dome.
As Nadia Drake reports for National Geographic, it's a life that would challenge the most self-sufficient person. Not only is there a 20-minute communication delay (simulating similar delays that might exist on Mars), but conditions in the 1,200 square-foot dome are tough. Crew members must survive everything from hot and cold temperatures to freeze-dried foods, not to mention the grueling reality of being isolated from friends and family. Drake notes that at least two of the six people inside experienced family deaths during their isolation. And the crew members had to improvise everything from Yahtzee games to dance-offs to keep their morale up. (For a further glimpse of daily life inside the dome, check out Calla Colfield's travelogue on Space.com.)
The concept of sending people to planet-like areas on Earth to train is as old as the space program itself. But HI-SEAS differs from some other variations of what are called "terrestrial analogues" within the world of space travel. Unlike simulations that, say, send astronauts underwater to mimic low-gravity movement or pit future crew members against caves or desert landscapes, HI-SEAS was specifically designed to study the psychology of space travel. Given that the team experienced several mini-emergencies, like when their water system broke, it offered analysts a rich way to study not just how strangers behave when they're thrown together in a strange environment, but how they interact once they've been given a challenging mission to complete.
The yearlong mission was the third for the group, which is funded by NASA's Behavioral Health and Performance initiative and administered by the University of Hawai'i and Cornell University. In the spirit of exploration, the crew was tracked with everything from motion trackers to cameras while they were in the dome. Now that they're out, they'll be debriefed and sent home—to a daily life that will presumably be forever transformed by all that time in the dome.
So the idea of living in total isolation with strangers may still not seem that appealing. (If it does, don't worry—HI-SEAS is recruiting for another mission now.) But when humans do finally head to the red planet, they'll take the lessons of HI-SEAS—Yahtzee, broken baths and all—along with them. When it comes to science, what's a little inconvenience now and then?
s safe to say that Queen Victoria is one of the most iconic monarchs in British history. After all, her rule coincided with major technological, social and political shifts in British life, including the Industrial Revolution, the global expansion of the British Empire, and the strict social and moral codes that defined the Victorian Era.
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Another known fact about her? She loved her baubles. As a matter of fact, she liked colored gems so much that her husband, Prince Albert, had a small crown called a coronet made for her as a wedding present. The silver coronet was studded with hundreds of small diamonds and topped off with 11 large, blue sapphires. However, the coronet’s current owner has put the artifact up for auction, sparking fears that a foreign buyer might try to take the treasure out of the U.K. Now, British officials are doing everything they can to try and ensure that one of her crowns does not leave British soil, Alyssa Buffenstein reports for artnet News.
“Queen Victoria’s coronet is stunning. It is one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period in our history and symbolizes one of our nation’s most famous love stories,” British Minister of State for digital and culture, Matt Hancock says in a statement. “I hope that we are able to keep the coronet in the U.K. and on display for the public to enjoy for years to come.”
The coronet has close ties to the monarch, both as a symbol of her reign as well as emblematic of her relationship with Prince Albert. She wore it in official portraits, as well as in 1866, when she attended the State Opening of Parliament for the first time since her husband’s death five years before instead of the traditional coronation crown, the BBC reports.
Officials began to worry about what might happen to the iconic coronet when the current owner put it up for auction and applied for an export license. In an attempt to hopefully give some patriotic British buyer time to put in a competitive bid, Hancock has placed a temporary export ban on the coronet through this coming December, David Hughes reports for The Independent.
“Its departure would be a great loss, given its beauty, its associations and its history,” Philippa Glanville, a member of the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, says in a statement.
The ban is officially in place through December 27, 2016, though it has the option of being extended through June 2017 if a buyer demonstrates that they can raise money to cover the $6.5 million asking price, as well as $1.3 million in taxes on the sale, Buffenstein reports. It remains unclear what will happen if the deadline passes without someone stepping up and promising to keep the crown in the country.