NASA to pay volunteers to work on simulated Martian exploration mission in anticipation of sending astronauts to Mars

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HOUSTON, Texas – Want to find your inner Matt Damon and spend a year pretending you’re isolated on Mars? NASA has a job for you.

To prepare for potentially sending astronauts to Mars, NASA on Friday began taking requests for four people to live for a year in Mars Dune Alpha. It is a 1,700 square foot Martian habitat, created by a 3D printer, and inside a building at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The video above is from a July 30 report on NASA’s latest mission to Mars aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover.

Paid volunteers will work on a simulated Martian exploration mission with spacewalks, limited home communications, limited food and resource resources, and equipment failures.

NASA is planning three such experiments, with the first starting in the fall of next year. The foods will all be ready-to-eat space foods and at this time no windows are provided. Some plants will be cultivated, but not the potatoes as in the movie “The Martian”. Damon played stranded astronaut Mark Watney, who survived on potatoes.

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

The application process opened on Friday and they’re not looking for just anyone. Requirements are strict, including a master’s degree in a science, engineering or math field or pilot experience. Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the United States are eligible. Applicants must be between 30 and 55 years of age, be in good physical health, free from food problems and not prone to motion sickness.

This shows that NASA is looking for people close to the astronauts, said former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. And he said. this is a good thing because it is a better experience if the participants are more like the people who will actually go to Mars. Past Russian efforts for a simulated mission to Mars called Mars 500 did not end well in part because people looked too much like regular people, he said.

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

“Just think how much you’re going to be able to catch up with Netflix,” he said. “If they have a musical instrument there, you could go in there without knowing a thing and take 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” due out in the fall. He said attendees should look like Damon Watney’s character: “Super knowledgeable, resourceful and not relying on others to feel comfortable.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. The Associated Press’s Department of Health and Science receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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