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Humans might still be some way off reaching Mars, but in the meantime it seems NASA is finding ways to bring Mars to us.
The space agency has put out a call for recruits to a year-long project that will see a crew participate in three ‘surface simulations’ of a mission to Mars.
In a press release, NASA said the missions would see crew members spend 365 days in a 1,700 sq ft module base, called Mars Dune Alpha – designed to help simulate a range of possible challenges that could face crews once they eventually land on Mars for real.
Officially titled the ‘Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog,’ the missions will see successful recruits put through all sorts of gruelling scenarios, including ‘equipment failures,’ ‘resource limitations’ and ‘environmental stressors.’
NASA also says the crew would be given the chance to perform ‘simulated spacewalks,’ although it did not specify how zero gravity would be achieved outside the Earth-bound module.
In a statement, NASA scientist Grace Douglas said the missions were ‘critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface,’ adding that ‘simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.’
Checking out of daily life here on Earth to spend a year on ‘Mars’ sounds like an attractive prospect for a whole number of reasons, but unfortunately, the opportunity is only open to a very specific category of people.
In their announcement, NASA said it was looking for English-speaking, non-smoking US citizens or permanent residents aged 33-55. Oh, and you also need to have a STEM masters degree and ideally 1,000 hours of flight training or military experience.
The Mars simulations are set to be held at a base within NASA’s Johnson Space Centre headquarters in Houston, Texas, with the first mission expected to launch in Autumn 2022.
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