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NASA seeks more volunteers to live in Mars simulator for a year

Calling all wannabe Martians! Here's more on how to apply for NASA's out-of-this-world mission — on Earth.
Image of the surface of Mars.
Posted at 9:44 PM, Feb 22, 2024

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.

This month, NASA put out a call searching for people to be part of the second ground-based crew for the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog mission (CHAPEA) based at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

Results from the 12-month CHAPEA experiment will help NASA scientists determine what will be needed for potential future Mars missions.

According to NASA's official statement, the four-person volunteer crew will be "living and working inside a 1,700 square-foot, 3-D printed habitat" called the Mars Dune Alpha. 

The 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."

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This image provided by Intuitive Machines shows its Odysseus lunar lander over the near side of the moon .

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The plan is for the crew to 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 walkNASA

Unfortunately, this simulated mission to Mars isn't open to just anyone. 

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. 

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 being a healthy and motivated U.S. citizen, or permanent resident. NASA is looking for non-smokers who are between 30 and 55 years old.

Candidates must be proficient in the English language and have a "strong desire for unique, rewarding adventures," and have an "interest in contributing to NASA's work to prepare for the first human journey to Mars."

The space agency also said it plans to offer compensation to mission participants. NASA said more information on that 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.

This story was originally published by Marie Rossiter at Simple Most.