Nasa Looking for Four People to ‘Live on Mars’ For A Year

The space agency is looking for paid volunteers to spend a year living in Mars Dune Alpha, a Martian habitat based in Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.
August 08, 2021 | 08:53
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Nasa is Looking for Four People to ‘Live on Mars’ For A Year

A proposed design for the Mars Dune Alpha habitat. Photo: Icon / Nasa via AP

The successful applicants will work a simulated Martian exploration mission including spacewalks.

The space agency wants people to apply so that it can prepare for eventually sending astronauts to the red planet, as reported by News Sky.

Applications opened on Friday for four people to live for a year in Mars Dune Alpha.

The 1,700-square-foot Martian habitat, created by a 3D-printer, is based inside a building at Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

There will be no windows, and the applicants will consume ready-to-eat space food.

Nasa is Looking for Four People to ‘Live on Mars’ For A Year
Matt Damon in a scene from 2015 sci-fi film The Martian. Photo: SCMP

The paid volunteers will work a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources and equipment failures.

Three of these experiments are being planned by NASA, with the first one starting in the autumn in 2022.

Nasa is planning three of these experiments with the first one starting in the fall next year. Food will all be ready-to-eat space food and at the moment there are no windows planned. Some plants will be grown, but not potatoes like in the film The Martian. Damon played stranded astronaut Mark Watney, who survived on potatoes.

“We want to understand how humans perform in them,” said lead scientist Grace Douglas. “We are looking at Mars realistic situations.”

As reported by SCMP, the application process opened on Friday and they are not seeking just anybody. The requirements are strict, including a master’s degree in a science, engineering or mathematics field or pilot experience. Only American citizens or permanent US residents are eligible. Applicants have to be aged between 30 and 55, in good physical health with no dietary issues and not prone to motion sickness.

That shows Nasa is looking for people who are close to astronauts, said former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. And, he said, that is a good thing because it is a better experiment if the participants are more like the people who will really go to Mars. Past Russian efforts at a pretend Mars mission called Mars 500 did not end well, partly because the people were too much like everyday people, he said.

Nasa is Looking for Four People to ‘Live on Mars’ For A Year
A picture taken by NASA's Mars helicopter Ingenuity. Photo: News Sky

For the right person this could be great, said Hadfield, who spent five months in orbit in 2013 at the International Space Station, where he played the guitar, sang and recorded a cover video of David Bowie’s Space Oddity.

“Just think how much you’re going to be able to catch up on Netflix,” he said. “If they have a musical instrument there, you could go into there knowing nothing and come out a concert musician, if you want.”

There could be “incredible freedom” in a “year away from the demands of your normal life.”

Attitude is key, said Hadfield, who has a novel The Apollo Murders coming out in the autumn. He said the participants need to be like Damon’s Watney character: “Super competent, resourceful and not relying on other people to feel comfortable.”

Meanwhile, NASA's newest Mars rover, called Perseverance, failed in its first attempt to pick up a rock sample to eventually be brought back to Earth.

The machine drilled into the floor of the planet's Jezero Crater to extract a finger-sized sample from slabs of flat rocks.

Although the drill seemed to work as intended, no rock appeared to have ended up in the sample tube.

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