Over the past decade, Benjamin Pothier has visited some of the most extreme environments on Earth. But his current project is taking him beyond anything the planet has to offer – giving him an insight into life in outer space.
The photographer and film-maker, a PhD candidate at the University of Plymouth’s Planetary Collegium, is taking part in a mission to perform scientific experiments and test technological instruments needed for the future exploration of the Moon or Mars.
Over two weeks, a crew of six are conducting a range of research at the Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) habitat, which is run by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and the International Moonbase Alliance (IMA) on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
The research includes geological and drone surveys, lava tube exploration and space technology testing, with much of this being done while confined and isolated inside a small dome with a diameter of only 12 metres.
They will only be able to exit the dome wearing spacesuits during a so-called extra-vehicular activity (EVA) to perform geological and astrobiological research in the lava fields and lava tubes. They will also be doing outreach and educational activities.
The crew includes a combination of astrobiologists, engineers, geologists, chemists and artists and Benjamin – an International Fellow of the Explorers Club – is acting as the mission’s photographer, film-maker and journalist.