NASA seeking volunteers to live in a Mars simulator for a year

surface of Mars
Associated Press

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to live on Mars? NASA is looking for volunteers for a yearlong mission that will simulate what living on the red planet might be like.

On Feb. 16, NASA put out the call for four people to make up the second ground-based crew for the CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) mission based at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Results from this 12-month experiment will help NASA scientists determine what will be needed for potential future Mars missions.

MORE: NASA scientists discover Mars is spinning faster

According to NASA’s official statement, the four-person volunteer crew will be “living and working inside a 1,700 square-foot, 3D printed habitat” called the Mars Dune Alpha. This base was designed to simulate potential challenges that may arise from living on Mars, including “resource limitations, equipment failures, communication delays and other environmental stressors.”

The crew will spend their days living and working in and around the habitat including maintenance, crop growth, exercise, simulated spacewalks and robotic operations.

The first CHAPEA four-person crew has been living inside the simulation habitat since June 25, 2023, and is scheduled to leave on July 6, 2024, at the conclusion of their mission.

NASA CHAPEA crew member performs simulated space walk

Unfortunately, this simulated mission to Mars isn’t open to everyone. Officials will select the next crew based on standard NASA criteria for astronaut candidates. Applicants will need to hold a master’s degree in a STEM field, including engineering, mathematics, biological science, physical science or computer science. Additionally, candidates who have “two years of work toward a doctoral program in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, completed a medical degree, or a test pilot program will also be considered.”

Other mandatory requirements for candidates include:

  • Healthy, motivated U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Non-smokers
  • 30-55 years old
  • English proficiency
  • A “strong desire for unique, rewarding adventures and interest in contributing to NASA’s work to prepare for the first human journey to Mars.”

NASA also indicated it plans to offer compensation for mission participation. More information will be given to candidates during the application process.

The application deadline is April 2, and the second CHAPEA mission is slated to begin sometime in 2025.

Think you’ve got what it takes? Here’s how to apply for the mission.

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About the Author
Marie Rossiter
Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World.

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