NASA is looking to select four volunteers to expose them to living conditions on Mars for practice. It wants to launch the mission to Mars in 2030s. The series of missions are called Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, which will take place at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
For a year, the volunteers will have to live in a 1700 square-foot 3D-printed module by Icon, smaller than a tennis court, called Mars Dune Alpha. The volunteers will face different scenarios and challenges in stimulation, which they may come up against on the planet like communication delays, limited resources, isolation, confinement and equipment failure. They will learn stimulated spacewalk, use of virtual reality, robotic controls, exchanging communications and scientific research.
Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research in Houston center, said, “Stimulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”
NASA is looking for healthy, non-smoking US citizens and permanent residents, between the age of 30 to 55 years. Candidates need to be strongly motivated, proficient in English and effective communication between crew and mission control. A Master’s Degree in a STEM field like engineering, mathematics or biological, physical and computer science from an accredited institution is also a requirement.
The International Space Station has its own Human Behaviour and Performance Competency Model (ISS HBP model) training astronauts to have an inter-reliant crew relationship, ensuring self-care and self-management. Mindfulness and meditation, among other techniques, are taught as key skills to survive in space and keep mental health in check.
NASA encourages space enthusiasts to apply and be a part of the first human journey to Mars. By filling out an online application and undergoing medical examinations, psychological testing and psychiatric screening, individuals can join the program beginning fall 2022.