New reporter joins FLORIDA TODAY Space Team | Space

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This week, we’d like to introduce you to our newest reporter, Space Reporter Brooke Edwards.

Multimedia Editor Rob Landers talked with Brooke, who joins veteran reporter Rick Neale on our Space Team.

As someone who actually served as an analog astronaut, Brooke brings a unique perspective on NASA, space and the reasons why we’re pushing the boundaries of where humans can go, live, work and thrive.

What is an analog astronaut? Before Brooke joined us, she got the unique experience of being an analog astronaut with HI-SEAS  (The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) in February 2021, where she served as her mission’s science communications officer.

Brooke spent two weeks living in a habitat, 8,000 feet above sea level on Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano, one of the closest places to Mars you can be on our planet. The desolate environment where little life exists is the perfect spot to give the analog astronauts the feeling of being on the moon, Mars or some other place.

The simulation mission was lunar based, meaning for the two weeks she was confined to the habitat, she had to live, work and play as if she were on the lunar surface. If one of the six crew left the enclosure without going through the simulated airlock and “depressurization,” the mission would end. A good test for actual astronauts as such an event could kill the entire crew.

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Of the experiments conducted over the course of Brooke’s mission, several looked at astronaut mental health. As humans continue to venture farther into space, there’s a need to determine the effects of isolation on the human mind. Brooke says that private analogs like HI-SEAS, as well as NASA analogs, are seeking to understand and find answers before humanity attempts to send crewed explorers to Mars and beyond.

Question: What excites you the most about covering space and about being part of the FLORIDA TODAY…

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