NASA is seeking healthy, motivated US citizens or permanent residents to spend 12 months in an analog 3D-printed Martian base called Mars Dune Alpha.
Safe human exploration of Mars is still a long way off, but NASA is doing important research on what such a mission might entail. If you want to feel on another world and help NASA, this is your chance.
Mars Dune Alpha is 158 square meters (1,700 square feet) and will be shared by four people simultaneously.
The Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) is a series of three one-year-long missions expected to begin in autumn 2022. During those 365 days, the crew will experience the challenges of living on Mars. They will struggle with resources and will have communication delays – after all, Mars is at the very least several light-minutes away. The crew will also face equipment failure and other environmental stressors.
They will also have to perform the duties expected from the astronauts on such a mission. There will be scientific research, plus a lot of virtual reality and robotic controls, to simulate various tools that astronauts might have access to on the red planet.
There will also be extravehicular activities, something of concern given possibilities of contamination on an actual Mars mission. While the planet would be inhospitable to most Earthly lifeforms, some might survive its frigid temperature and radiation. Life on Mars may also be possible, and it might find the interior of the base extremely agreeable, making it another danger to astronauts.
“The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface” Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research effort at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement. “Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”
The requirements for mission participants are the same as NASA’s standard criteria for astronauts. You must be a non-smoker aged 30 to 55 and be proficient in English. You need to have at least a master's degree in a STEM subject – like maths, physics, biology, or engineering – and two years of professional experience in STEM or at least 1,000 hours piloting an aircraft.
People working on a STEM PhD, with a medical degree, or are test pilots will also be considered. People who have four years experience after a Bachelor of Science degree or after having completed a military officer training program might also be considered.