Grace Douglas, a lead scientist at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, where the mission will take place, said: “The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface.
“Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.”
It’s hoped the three, one-year missions – called Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog – will also help with research into journeys to the Moon, too.
The four lucky individuals will live and work in Mars Dune Alpha, a 3-D printed, 1,700 square foot base, and deal with “environmental stressors” such as limited resources, equipment failure and communication issues.
Maybe that doesn’t sound so lucky.
Then there’s the small matter of meeting Nasa’s rigorous entry criteria. They’re looking for “healthy, motivated US citizens or permanent residents who are non-smokers, age 30 to 55 years old, and proficient in English”.
Oh, and a master’s degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subject is required. Some alternatives could be taken into consideration though.
Still with us? In their webpage on the application process, Nasa say specific medications are disqualified: “blood pressure medications, blood thinners, seizure medications, daily allergy medications, diabetic insulin daily, sleeping aids, ADHD/ADD medications, antidepressants, anxiety medications”.
If they can get through all that and are happy with the possible risk of “minor discomforts” and “physical injury”, then applicants have until 5pm (CST) on 17 September to apply for the job, which includes a 13-month selection process.