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NASA is Looking for People to Live Inside a Simulation of Mars for One Year
Mar. 27, 2024
NASA is Looking for People to Live Inside a Simulation of Mars for One Year

NASA is Looking for People to Live Inside a Simulation of Mars for One Year

In another step toward sending astronauts to the Red Planet, NASA is gearing up for their second of three environmental simulations. The program will take place here on Earth inside of a controlled environment in which the volunteers participating will remain for an entire year.

The Simulated Mars Environment Will Be 3D Printed

The first of the three Mars simulations is already in its eighth month. Dubbed CHAPEA (Crew Health And Performance Exploration Analog), the four-member crew consists of two men and two women: a research scientist, a flight engineer, a medical officer, and a microbiologist and officer in the Navy.

Like the first mission, CHAPEA 2 will take place inside a 3D printed structure that will contain all of the tools needed to conduct the research and duties that will need to be carried out in a real Mars mission.

The Mars Dune Alpha Habitat Will Be Located in Houston

The environment of the second simulation will span only 1,700 square feet, and will also consist of four crew members. Crew duties will include planting crops and maintaining a green house, performing maintenance on equipment, zero gravity simulations, health monitoring, and more.

The volunteers selected will be paid an undisclosed amount in addition to free room and board for the duration of the mission. In order to qualify, applicants must have:

- A master’s degree in a STEM field

- A minimum of two years professional experience, or 1,000 hours of piloting experience

Those with the following may also be considered:

- Two years progress toward a doctorate in a STEM field

- A medical degree

- A bachelor’s degree in a STEM field

- Completed military officer training

What is the Current Timeline for Humans to Reach Mars?

In 2016, Elon Musk stated that he believed SpaceX’s first manned mission to Mars could leave in 2024 and arrive on Mars by 2025. As the years have passed, the timeline has been pushed up further and further to a still unknown date

However, in a recent interview, SpaceX’s Gwynn Shotwell said that they now plan to put a person on Mars by 2030. The journey will take approximately six months, so SpaceX’s spacecraft will have to be well-equipped and well-prepared or the long trip.

The first trip or string of trips to Mars will be cargo drops according SpaceX. Once the landing site is well-stocked, the plan is to eventually set up a permanent colony on Mars.

Musk made reference to economist Robin Hanson’s theory of the “Great Filter.” In the catastrophic event of an asteroid colliding with Earth or a nuclear war, Mars would have to be humanity’s new home. Humans can only survive the Great Filter by sustaining life on Mars even if supplies from Earth ceased to arrive.

Musk wants to ensure we secure that backup plan as soon as we possibly can.

What Will Life on Mars Be Like?

As Earthlings, Mars’ climate is obviously quite a bit different from our own. For starters, it has a gravity that’s only 38% of ours. Colonists will either need to simulate a denser gravity in in-door facilities, or cope with the extreme difference in gravity.

One theory is to build rotating habitats within a gigantic centrifuge. Remember the Grav-a-tron from your local fair? That, but on a much larger scale and hopefully less vomiting.

Much farther into the future, terraforming could become a reality. Over time, it is theoretically possible for humans to create an atmosphere on Mars complete with seasons, rain, and breathable air.

For now though, we’ll have to wait and see how the mission to Mars progresses and hope that we can reach the Red Planet by the end of our current decade.