Do you want to lead the mission to Mars? It seems like you may finally have a chance. In news we first saw on Gizmodo, NASA is taking applications for long-duration simulations that will replicate visits to Mars.
NASA’s Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog project (CHAPEA) will consist of a four-person crew that gets to live on Mars Dune Alpha. This planet-side environment is an isolated 1,700 square foot habitat. NASA shares that “during the mission, the crew will conduct simulated spacewalks and provide data on a variety of factors, which may include physical and behavioral health and performance.” Among other cool factors, the mission will include space food and simulated spacewalks. These forays “into space” will include virtual reality technology. The habitat itself will be 3D printed.
There are currently plans for three simulations to take place, with the first beginning in 2022. Mission #2 will take place in 2024 and #3 will happen in 2025. CHAPEA marks an incredibly important step in our continued exploration of Mars. Knowledge gained from these studies will help impact future space missions, including ones to Mars’ surface.
NASA shares that the goals of the project are:
To obtain the most accurate data during the analog, the habitat will be as Mars-realistic as feasible, which may include environmental stressors such as resource limitations, isolation, equipment failure, and significant workloads. The major crew activities during the analog may consist of simulated spacewalks including virtual reality, communications, crop growth, meal preparation and consumption, exercise, hygiene activities, maintenance work, personal time, science work, and sleep.
As mentioned, applications for the simulations are now open. While some of the job requirements are pretty standard, others are more rigorous. But if you are ready to make your first (almost) trip to Mars, why not try your luck? Applications will remain open until September 17.