NASA is currently recruiting applicants for participation as a crew member for a simulated Mars mission set to begin next year.
Successful applicants will join a one-year analog mission in a habitat to simulate life on a distant world to prepare NASA for real-life challenges of future missions to Mars, with the simulated mission set to begin in the Fall of 2022.
“NASA will study how highly motivated individuals respond under the rigor of a long-duration, ground-based simulation. The series of missions – known as Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog – includes three one-year Mars surface simulations based at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The analogs will support research to develop methods and technologies to prevent and resolve potential problems on future human spaceflight missions to the Moon and Mars,” NASA said in a press release.
“The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface” said Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research effort at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”
According to NASA, each mission will consist of four crew members living and working in a 1,700-square-foot module 3D-printed by ICON, called Mars Dune Alpha. The habitat will simulate the challenges of a mission on Mars, including resource limitations, equipment failure, communication delays, and other environmental stressors. Crew tasks may include simulated spacewalks, scientific research, use of virtual reality and robotic controls, and exchanging communications. The results will provide important scientific data to validate systems and develop solutions.
“NASA is looking for healthy, motivated US citizens or permanent residents who are non-smokers, age 30 to 55 years old, and proficient in English for effective communication between crew and mission control. Crew selection will follow standard NASA criteria for astronaut candidate applicants,” the space exploration organization said.
“A master’s degree in a STEM field such as engineering, mathematics, or biological, physical or computer science from an accredited institution with at least two years of professional STEM experience or a minimum of one thousand hours piloting an aircraft is required. Candidates who have completed two years of work toward a doctoral program in STEM, or completed a medical degree, or a test pilot program will also be considered. Additionally, with four years of professional experience, applicants who have completed military officer training or a Bachelor of Science in a STEM field may be considered,” NASA added.