NASA wants paid volunteers to spend a year living in a 3D-printed Martian habitat in Texas, where they will carry out spacewalks and research using VR tech

·2 min read
An artist's rendering of astronauts and human habitats on Mars. NASA/JPL

NASA is looking for applicants to spend a whole year pretending they live on Mars.

The 1,700 square-foot Martian surface is located inside the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

These types of simulations are called analog missions. Insider's Alyssa Pagano reported on the challenges of an eight-month analog mission in 2018.

For the newly announced mission, applications opened on Friday for four people to live on Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed habitat. The US agency is planning three such experiments, with the first one due to begin next fall.

The paid volunteers will take part in a simulated Martian exploration mission, complete with spacewalks. They will only have limited contact with their families and friends back home, and must learn to cope with restricted resources and equipment failures.

The news comes as the space agency ramps up its plans to eventually set up a station on the moon and send people to Mars, as part of its Artemis program.

Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA's Advanced Food Technology research effort, said in a press release: "The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface."

She added: "Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go."

Applicants will need to hold a master's degree in engineering, maths, or computer science and have at least two years of pilot experience.

The agency also specified that only US citizens or permanent residents qualify for the experiment. They have to be aged between 30-55 and in good physical health. They must not be prone to motion sickness.

Sky News reported that Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said the mission would mean "incredible freedom" in a "year away from the demands of your normal life."

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