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Think you have what it takes to live a year on Mars? Well, NASA is giving you the chance to prove it. The space administration is now taking applications for crew members to undertake a year-long simulation of life on the Red Planet beginning in the fall of 2022, and it might just be the closest you ever get to having roommates on Mars.
NASA announced last week that, in preparation for planned Mars missions that would, eventually, require a crew to spend long periods of time in close quarters on the planet, it's launching a series of simulations here on Earth to prepare for the various challenges of a real Martian voyage. The Fall 2022 version of the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) will be the first of three such planned simulations, all unfolding at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.
So, what can you expect if you sign up? Each CHAPEA mission will include four "crew members" who will be assigned to live in a 1,700 square foot living module dubbed "Crew Dune Alpha." The 3D printed dwelling, designed and built by ICON, will include four private quarters for the crew, along with living and working space, a space for growing crops, and a mixture of "fixed and movable furniture" to allow the crew to reorganize the habitat to some degree.
Once inside, CHAPEA crew members will be tasked with a number of simulations designed to reflect eventual life on Mars, including simulated spacewalks, research missions, communications with NASA Mission Control, learning robotic controls, and more. They'll also be tasked with simulated versions of various problems NASA anticipates long-term Martian astronauts might encounter, including communication delays, equipment breakdowns, and limited resources.
Because of the various challenges associated with the simulations, NASA is not just looking for any individual with a can-do attitude for the CHAPEA missions. The application specifies that the administration wants non-smokers, aged 30-55, with master's degrees in STEM fields, with at least two years of professional STEM experience and/or "a minimum of one thousand hours piloting an aircraft." So, in some ways, you still a need a version of the typical blueprint that comes with being an astronaut one day.
If you think you have what it takes, and you want to pretend to live on Mars for a year, head over and check out the application process.