As the space agency prepares to plan for human survival on Mars, NASA is looking for four qualified candidates to live in conditions similar to those on the Red Planet in order to provide insight into what that might look like.
Rather than traveling into space, the volunteers will reside in the Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot 3D-printed habitat at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The module will have individual rooms, a kitchen, two baths, a fitness center, and an area for agricultural cultivation.
NASA intends to undertake three of these experiments, the first in fall 2022 and the others in 2024 and 2025. Paid volunteers will participate in a simulated Mars exploration mission, which will include spacewalks. They will have very little communication with family and friends back home and will need to adapt to resource constraints.
While it may seem exciting to experience life on Mars, there will be difficulties, such as dealing with technology breakdown and limited communication with the outside world. The additional challenges should provide NASA with alternative solutions to any concerns that may develop during future flights.
“The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface,” Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s advanced food technology research, said in the news release. “Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”
According to the application, which opened on Friday and will remain open until Sept. 17, the organization is looking for United States citizens or permanent residents aged 30-35 who are in good physical health and do not have any dietary restrictions. Another requirement is that the candidate must not be susceptible to motion sickness.
The selection process will “follow standard NASA criteria for astronaut candidate applicants,” with applicants need to hold a master’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or computer science and at least two years of pilot experience.