The Imagination 1 crew made up of four University of Arizona professional artists made it back on Earth from their six-day simulated moon adventure at the Biosphere 2.

Their goal? To create art inspired by the universe and show how valuable it is in space exploration research.

I got to go inside of the Space Analog for the Moon and Mars (SAM) habitat where a professor, dancer, poet and textile artist spent the entire week.

They embarked on Sunday, March 10th at 10 a.m. with only a plastic box filled with their essentials and “landed” Friday, March 15th at around 10 a.m. to their family and friends.

The four stayed inside of a 1,100 sq. ft. pressurized and air-tight enclosure, finding sustainable ways to create thriving communities outside of earth.

One anticipated challenge for Ivy Wahome, the textile artist and UArizona Master of Fine Arts candidate in costume design and production, was the crew’s food and water situation.

“I thought we were gonna run out,” said Wahome. “But we didn’t. Nothing was normal, we had to learn how to make our dinners every night with all these different equipment that I had never used before.”

They’re the third crew to experience this, but the first ones who were asked to drink their own recycled water. SAM began these missions in April 2023.

The four split-up vital duties like managing a new hydrophonics system and monitoring the SAM’s oxygen and pressure.

Christopher Cokinos, crew commander and professor emeritus of English at UArizona, described SAM as home.

“We would be making art and then there would be a question,” Cokinos said.” You know, has somebody emptied this waste water bucket? Who’s doing the food scrap dehydrating that will eventually feed a mushroom colony.”

The crew was tasked with creating art inspired by their simulated time on the moon.

Dancer, Elizabeth George’s big contribution came from the “lung” of SAM.

George came up with choreography utilizing the low-gravity and limited-space.

Julie Swarstad-Johnson, poet and UArizona poetry center archivist and librarian, taught Wahome how to use a 3D printer, as Wahome taught Swarstad-Johnson how to sew.

“Chris would be working in the engineering bay. There’s a little bridge between two spaces,” Swarstad-Johnson described. “So, I might be sitting there. Ivy was at work at the sewing machine and we could hear Liz moving around in the lung. So, I think being in that space fueled a lot of what we did.”

I talked with Kai Statts, director of research at SAM, about the length of the missions. Statts told me this will be the last time a crew is on a simulated mission for one-week, confirming they will begin two-week long missions by this fall or 2025.

Imagination 1 crew members will continue creating space-inspired art.

“So that the future of space exploration isn’t separate from the future of art,” Cokinos said.