Feb 20, 2024 - Science

NASA wants 4 volunteers for yearlong simulated Mars mission

Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars projected into point perspective, a view similar to that which one would see from a spacecraft.

Mosaic of the Valles Marineris hemisphere of Mars projected into point perspective, a view similar to that which one would see from a spacecraft. Photo: NASA

NASA has a new Mars mission: seeking volunteers to spend an entire year living in a simulated version of the red planet.

Why it matters: The surface mission on a 3D-printed habitat, called the Mars Dune Alpha, will help inform the agency's plans for human exploration of the planet, per a statement from NASA.

The simulated Martian environment will put Earth-bound 'astronauts' to the test
Photo: NASA/X

The big picture: The second of three planned ground-based missions, known as "CHAPEA," (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) is due to start in spring next year. Those participating will be compensated, with more information provided during the candidate screening process.

  • To qualify, you must be a healthy, nonsmoking U.S. citizen or permanent resident between 30-55 years old and proficient in English.
  • Applicants must have the required STEM qualifications and experience in the field, or a minimum of 1,000 hours piloting an aircraft or the requisite military experience.

How it works: "Each CHAPEA mission involves a four-person volunteer crew living and working inside a 1,700-square-foot, 3D-printed habitat based at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston," per NASA's statement.

  • The habitat simulates the challenges of a mission on Mars. These include "resource limitations, equipment failures, communication delays, and other environmental stressors," according to NASA.
  • "Crew tasks include simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, habitat maintenance, exercise, and crop growth."

What's next: Applications close on April 2.

Go deeper: Setting up the next scientific era on Mars

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