Japan Is Paying People To Spend Two Weeks In A Simulated Space Station

The International Space Station. NASA

JAXA, the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, is recruiting eight people to spend 14 days and 13 nights in a simulated Space Station at the Tsukuba Space Center. The goal is to better test astronauts for signs of stress.

As reported in Japan Today, the agency is offering a sizable stipend for taking part in this initiative – 380,000 yen ($3,500). That is about 30 percent higher than the local minimum wage, although it is important to consider that even when the participants are sleeping, they are technically “working” for JAXA.

The requirements to participate in this experiment are simple. You need to be under 55 years old and in good health. If you tick those two boxes, then you’re eligible for participating in this “mission”. It is also not restricted to Japanese people, but the deadline is January 31. If you’re planning to apply, you better know Japanese and go to the Japan Clinical Volunteer Network website fast.

The successful applicants will be cut off from the rest of the world and they won’t carry any of their personal belongings with them. This is to re-create a faithful environment to the actual International Space Station. The people who are selected will be asked to perform various tasks while researchers measure their stress levels.

This is not the first simulation of how astronauts may feel on space missions or on other planets. Many groups have looked at the psychological consequences of living in close proximity with a small group of people and with a certain degree of isolation from the rest of humanity.

Among the several studies, the one that really caught the attention of the public was the HI-SEAS IV mission, which concluded in Summer 2016. The mission lasted a year, so it was much longer than the JAXA proposal and it had a slightly different focus – it looked at how life on a Martian base would unfold.

While these differences are important, the goal remains the same. The scientists seek to understand what type of psychological stress develops in these situations and to hopefully develop the right mechanisms to help astronauts deal with it. The European and the Russian space agencies did something similar in 2010, with an isolation mission that lasted 520 days.

[H/T: Japan Today]

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