Four Volunteers to Live Together Inside Simulated Mars Environment for Year-Long Mission


Four volunteers have been selected to live together for a year in a simulated Mars habitat created by NASA.

On June 20, NASA’s Johnson Space Center announced the anticipated mission on its Twitter page.

“Four volunteers are about to embark on an out-of-this-world experience without leaving Earth!” The Space Center wrote.

According to NASA’s website, during the 378-day experiment, which started Sunday, “The crew will conduct simulated spacewalks and provide data on a variety of factors, which may include physical and behavioral health and performance.”

They will also have access to certain amenities such as a kitchen, two bathrooms, private rooms, and dedicated areas for recreation, work, medical, and fitness, in the enclosed 3D habitat.

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“During the simulation, crew members will carry out different types of mission activities, including simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, habitat maintenance, personal hygiene, exercise, and crop growth,” the website reads.

To make the mission as realistic as possible, the crew is expected to face different challenges such as isolation, equipment failure, and resource limitations.

Dr. Suzanne Bell, a Behavior Health and Performance Laboratory lead at Johnson Space Center, told ABC affiliate KTRK how each volunteer was chosen for the experiment.

“We’ve specifically chosen people that we hope to succeed together very carefully screened and really clear that they have the ability to work on teams. And so our objectives are really about optimizing that human health and performance,” Bell explained.

According to a NASA release, the four scientists selected for the mission are Kelly Haston, commander; Ross Brockwell, flight engineer; Nathan Jones, medical officer; and Anca Selariu science officer.

Grace Douglas, the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, (CHAPEA) principal investigator explained the purpose of the experiment, per NASA’s website.

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“The simulation will allow us to collect cognitive and physical performance data to give us more insight into the potential impacts of long-duration missions to Mars on crew health and performance,” she said.

Continuing, she said, “Ultimately, this information will help NASA make informed decisions to design and plan for a successful human mission to Mars.”

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