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NASA Wants You To Spend A Year Simulating Life On Mars, For Science

A conceptual rendering of Mars Dune Alpha on Mars. NASA is seeking applicants for a "one-year analog mission in a habitat to simulate life on a distant world" to live in a 1,700-square-foot habitat with three other people on Earth.
A conceptual rendering of Mars Dune Alpha on Mars. NASA is seeking applicants for a "one-year analog mission in a habitat to simulate life on a distant world" to live in a 1,700-square-foot habitat with three other people on Earth.

Would you like to spend a year pretending to live on Mars in a 1,700-square-foot space shared with three other people?

If that's your idea of a dream job, you can thank your lucky stars, because NASA is hiring.

The agency is seeking applicants for what it calls a "one-year analog mission in a habitat to simulate life on a distant world." NASA plans to observe humans in a Mars-like situation on Earth so it can study the challenges that might crop up during a future mission to the red planet.

Grace Douglas, the lead scientist for NASA's Advanced Food Technology research effort at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, says the simulated mission will benefit future missions that actually go to space.

"Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go," Douglas says.

NASA is looking for four crew members who will live and work for a year in a 3D-printed, 1,700-square-foot module called Mars Dune Alpha, based at NASA's Johnson Space Center. According to NASA, the crew might perform tasks such as simulated spacewalks, using virtual reality and robotic controls, exchanging communications and conducting other research.

The posting calls for healthy and motivated U.S. citizens between the ages of 30 and 55 years old, plus a STEM master's degree or sufficient experience piloting an aircraft.

It won't necessarily be an easy gig, though. NASA warns that the crew will experience simulated problems like those humans might face on Mars, including resource limitations, equipment failure, communication delays and other environmental stressors.

In exchange, selected crew members will help bring humans one step closer to reaching Mars.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

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