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NASA Is Recruiting Crew Members for Year-Long Simulated Mars Mission

Do you have what it takes to pretend to live on Mars?

Mars Dune Alpha Conceptual Render: Visualization on Mars

As the pandemic rages on and the oceans and forests burn, many of us are looking to escape our cursed planet for a fresh do-over elsewhere. So much like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall, some of us are looking toward a nice relaxing vacation on Mars. Well, nice and relaxing may be a stretch. But if you dream of exploring life on Mars, NASA has an opportunity for you.

arnold schwarzenegger in Total Recall

NASA is currently seeking applicants to participate in a year-long analog simulated mission on Mars. In NASA parlance, an analog is a situation on Earth that produces effects on the body similar to those experienced in space, physical, mental and emotional. These studies help prepare for long duration missions.

The series of missions are known as Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA), which will see three one-year Mars surface simulations based at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The missions will help support research to develop strategies and technologies for solving potential issues on future missions to Mars and the Moon. The first CHAPEA is set for Fall 2022, with the following simulations in 2024 and 2025.

Each mission will consist of four crew members who will live in Mars Dune Alpha, an isolated 1,700 square foot habitat. The mission will consist of rigorous training and problem solving exercises, including simulated spacewalks. The crew will be subject to a variety of practice environmental stressors, such as isolation, equipment failure, and limited resources. They will also do research on life-sustaining practices, including crop growth, meal prep, data collection. The program will also use virtual reality to aid in the simulation.

They will reside in a 3D printed habitat that includes private crew quarters, a kitchen, and dedicated areas for medical, recreation, fitness, work, and crop growth activities, as well as a technical work area and two bathrooms. The simulation will also allow NASA to monitor the physical and psychological effects of the sustained isolation and stress that comes with living on an uninhabitable planet.

“The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface” said Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research effort at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”

So, do you have what it takes to be a crew member on CHAPEA? NASA is looking for “healthy, motivated U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are non-smokers, age 30 to 55 years old, and proficient in English for effective communication between crew and mission control. Crew selection will follow standard NASA criteria for astronaut candidate applicants.” Sounds easy enough, but wait, there’s more!

“Ideally, applicants would have a master’s degree in a STEM field such as engineering, mathematics, or biological, physical or computer science from an accredited institution with at least two years of professional STEM experience or a minimum of one thousand hours piloting an aircraft is required. Candidates who have completed two years of work toward a doctoral program in STEM, or completed a medical degree, or a test pilot program will also be considered. Additionally, with four years of professional experience, applicants who have completed military officer training or a Bachelor of Science in a STEM field may be considered.”

Weird, they don’t seem to have any need for entertainment bloggers. Your loss, NASA! If you do meet the qualifications, you can learn more about applying HERE. NASA offers compensation to its crew members, but like most jobs online, are not disclosing the salary. Does Mars have a minimum wage?

the martians of 'Mars Attacks!'

(via NASA, image: ICON)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.