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NASA Is Hiring People to Stay in Simulated Mars Environment

The year-long program includes simulated spacewalks in an almost life-like Mars mission.

NASA Is Hiring People to Stay in Simulated Mars Environment
Mars Dune Alpha Conceptual Render: Visualization on Mars Icon/NASA

If you would like to experience life on Mars, now's your chance. NASA is looking for volunteers who will stay in simulated Mars habitats at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas for a period of one year. Applications are open for six weeks and the mission will begin in the Fall of 2022, NASA said

As outer space is within the reach of private companies set up by billionaires, countries are now looking farther with aims to make settlements on nearby planets, such as Mars. Having sent multiple rovers to the Red Planet, the American space agency, NASA, has now its eyes set on a human mission as part of its Artemis Program. Exploring  Moon to Mars, the program plans to put a man and a woman on the Moon by 2024 and send a crewed mission to Mars by 2030.

Preparations for the Moon Missions are in full swing but the Mars Mission is not lagging either. In its efforts to determine the impact of the Mars mission on the astronauts, NASA has 3D printed the Martian habitat at its Johnson Space Center. It plans to run a simulated experiment called Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) next fall.

Currently, NASA has opened applications for volunteers who would like to be part of this simulated mission, or analog, as it is referred to scientifically. The mission consists of four crew members living in a 1700 square feet module that will function as a closed habitat. Called Mars Dune Alpha, the module is currently being 3D printed and consist of four private crew quarters, dedicated workstations, a medical station, common lounge areas, and a galley and food growing stations,

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The habitat will simulate the challenges of the Mars Mission such as equipment failure, communication delays, and other environmental stressors. Not just that, the mission also includes conducting scientific research and simulate spacewalks along with using virtual reality and robotic controls. All the activities performed inside the module will go into validating systems and developing solutions. "Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go,” said Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research.

Volunteer selection for the mission also follows the same criteria NASA uses for the selection of its astronauts. For this program, NASA is looking for US citizens or permanent residents between the ages of 30-55 years and who have a master's degree in engineering, mathematics, or sciences, along with two years of professional work experience or 1000-hours piloting experience. 

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NASA plans to conduct three such analog missions over the next few years. With recent evidence suggesting that Mars may have supported life earlier, the race to reach the Red Planet is intensifying and within a few years reach.

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