NASA Wants Volunteers to Pretend to Go to Mars

A dramatization of a Mars habitat
ICON

Can you set a year aside and set aside your everyday life? Well, then you might be the perfect candidate for NASA’s latest program—a trip to Mars! OK, not really. A simulated trip to Mars. NASA wants four volunteers to live in a simulated Mars environment for a year. To see if you’ll go crazy.

Despite your potential vast experience through playtime as a child, not just anyone can pretend to go to another planet. At least, not for NASA anyway. Application requirements are stringent. You’ll need a master’s degree in a STEM field such as engineering, mathematics, or biological, physical, or computer science from an accredited institution with at least two years of professional STEM experience or a minimum of one thousand hours piloting an aircraft to start. Also, you can’t be on medications for food allergies, ADHD, blood thinners, and more.

But all of that makes sense because NASA has a real purpose for these tests. Yes, that’s tests, as NASA will conduct three year-long missions. NASA wants to send people to Mars for real in the future (perhaps as early as 2033), and there are many unknowns with the prospect. How will people cope cooped up on another planet? How will they deal with equipment failures, communication delays, and more?

Four people will live in a  1,700-square-foot 3D-printed module called Mars Dune Alpha to simulate those potential scenarios. They’ll have to put up with simulated communication delays, equipment failure, and complete experiments and other tasks. The habitat will contain private rooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, work areas, and even places to exercise.

NASA mentions that applicants can’t be prone to motion sickness when using VR headsets, so it sounds like Virtual Reality will play a role in the simulated tests as well. NASA even said compensation for the time spent is available, though it didn’t elaborate on how much.

This might be the closest most of us can get to Mars, though, so if you meet NASA’s list of requirements, you can apply at its site.

Josh Hendrickson Josh Hendrickson
Josh Hendrickson has worked in IT for nearly a decade, including four years spent repairing and servicing computers for Microsoft. He’s also a smarthome enthusiast who built his own smart mirror with just a frame, some electronics, a Raspberry Pi, and open-source code. Read Full Bio »

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