Nasa seeks volunteers for paid one-year ‘mission to Mars’

Nasa seeks volunteers for paid one-year ‘mission to Mars’

Nasa is seeking volunteers to participate in a one-year Mars surface simulation mission to help develop the space agency’s plans for human exploration of the Red Planet.

The space agency is seeking applications from “healthy, motivated US citizens or permanent residents who are non-smokers, 30-55 years old, and proficient in English”.

This would be the second of Nasa’s planned ground missions called the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) scheduled to start in the spring of 2025, and those who are interested have until 2 April to apply.

It would involve a four-person crew living and working for a year inside a 1,700-square-foot, 3D-printed habitat called the Mars Dune Alpha based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The habitat, according to Nasa, would simulate the challenges of a Mars mission such as the availability of limited resources, communication delays, equipment failures, and other environmental stressors.

The mission’s volunteer crew would undertake tasks such as simulated spacewalks, habitat maintenance, robotic operations, exercise, and crop growth.

Ideal candidates for the mission are those who have a strong desire for “unique, rewarding adventures” and an “interest in contributing to Nasa’s work to prepare for the first human journey to Mars”, the space agency said.

“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 is required,” Nasa said, adding that compensation will be available for mission participants.

The American agency hopes to use research insights from the simulated missions to inform crew health and performance support during actual astronaut expeditions to Mars.

Until now, Nasa has sent robotic rovers and a helicopter to explore Mars, but no humans have yet set foot on the planet.

Living an entire year on Mars will be much more challenging.

The Red Planet can be hostile to astronauts with temperatures reaching as low as -225 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mars’s atmosphere has high levels of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and argon gases that create its characteristic hazy, dusty red sky.