2:20 PM PDT, August 9, 2021
You don’t have to live on Mars, but if you want to spend a year pretending you’re on the “Red Planet,” NASA is willing to pay. NASA has begun taking applications to simulate a one-year mission on Mars, set to begin in Fall 2022.
NASA will ultimately recruit four people to live in Mars Dune Alpha for a year, a 1,700-square-foot facility created by 3-D printer meant to imitate the conditions on Mars, the Associated Press reported.
The simulation will take place entirely inside NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas – unlike NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which is currently inside the Martian Jezero Crater.
The analog mission is meant to simulate conditions experienced in space, including physical, emotional and mental effects on the body.
“Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go,” Lead scientist Grace Douglas of NASA’s Advanced Food Technology said in a statement.
The experience will also help experts anticipate potential problems that might come up during a future mission to Mars, and give them an opportunity to prevent and solve complications before a spaceflight takes place.
While you don’t have to be an astronaut to apply, the simulated Mars mission isn’t for everyone. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are non-smokers between 30 and 55 years old, NASA said in a statement.
NASA is also looking for people with a master’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or biological, physical or computer science and two years’ job experience in a STEM field or at least 1,000 hours of experience in piloting an aircraft. Or, NASA will consider people with similar backgrounds, like doctors, test pilots and military personnel.
Experts believe the strict requirement might have to do with a previous simulated Mars mission led by Russia’s space program, which failed because those tasked with the job were too much like every day people, the Associated Press reported.
For more information on how to apply, visit NASA’s website.