UND ‘Mars’ Explorers Emerge After Two-Week Test

UND biomedical engineering student Nelio Nascimento, a crew member for UND’s fifth Inflatable Lunar Mars Habitat mission, gives the thumbs up, alongside UND Space Studies grad student and mission commander Prabhu Victor and Dr. Michael Castro, a physician from Florida and the mission’s medical officer, before undergoing 14-days of scientific seclusion aboard the Habitat. Image courtesy of Juan Miguel Pedraza/UND image.

A team of three UND-affiliated volunteers felt natural sunlight for the first time in 14 days as they emerged from scientific seclusion on “Mars” back to good ol’ planet Earth.

The crew part, part of the University of North Dakota’s Inflatable Lunar Mars Habitat (ILMH) exited their temporary home for two weeks following a fifth NASA-funded mission that mimics a long-duration stay on the planet Mars. Crew members comprised mission commander Prabhu Victor, a UND alum and current Space Studies graduate student; Nelio Nascimento, an undergraduate in biomedical engineering at UND and an international student from Brazil; and Dr. Michael Castro, a physician from Florida who volunteered to be the mission’s medical officer.

“This habitat is the only system of its kind in the nation on a college campus,” said Pablo de León, an aerospace engineer and faculty member in Space Studies. He’s also director of the UND Human Spaceflight Laboratory. De Leon noted that the project is funded by the North Dakota-NASA EPSCoR grant.

The ILMH project attracts students from around the world to join in the prestigious scientific effort. Students are largely responsible for constructing, assembling and maintaining the ILMH.

Find out more about the project by clicking here.