NASA Is Recruiting for a Mars Simulation Mission: Here's How to Apply

NASA is seeking applicants to take part in a year-long mission that will simulate life on the surface of Mars.

The mission is the first of three in NASA's CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) series, and is scheduled to begin in fall of 2022.

Each mission will consist of four crew members living and working in a 1,700-square-foot habitat—3D-printed by construction technology company ICON—called Mars Dune Alpha, which is located at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

The habitat will include private crew quarters, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a technical work area, and dedicated areas for medical, recreational, fitness, and an area for crop growth activities.

The habitat is designed to simulate the challenges of an extended mission on the surface of Mars. The crew will have to rely on limited resources, and will experience communication delays and other environmental stressors, such as isolation, equipment failure, and significant workloads.

Over the course of the mission, crew members will conduct simulated spacewalks and engage in other activities, such as communicating with NASA teams, maintaining the habitat, growing crops and conducting scientific experiments.

Crew members will be asked to provide NASA with data on a variety of factors, including behavioral health and performance.

The aim of the mission is to assess how individuals might respond over the course of an extended mission on the surface of another world. Two more analog CHAPEA missions are set to take place in 2024 and 2025.

The results will provide data that will have significant implications for future human spaceflight missions to the moon and Mars.

"The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface," Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA's Advanced Food Technology research effort at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement.

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

As part of its Artemis program, NASA is planning to return humans to the moon by 2024, which the agency says will be a stepping stone to eventually sending astronauts to Mars.

Applications for the first CHAPEA mission are now open and will close at 5 p.m. CST on September 17, 2021.

To apply, please click on this link here, which will take you to the application page. You will be asked to create an account and fill out a questionnaire.

NASA is looking for healthy and motivated individuals to take part in the mission with a "desire for unique and rewarding adventures", who are interested in contributing to the work of the agency. You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident aged 30-55 years old, proficient in English and a non-smoker.

Applicants must also have a master's degree in a STEM field, such as engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics, or at least 1,000 hours experience of piloting an aircraft.

NASA will also consider candidates who have completed two years of work toward a STEM doctoral program, a medical degree or a test pilot program.

In addition, applicants with a bachelor's degree and other specific qualifications—such as relevant additional education, military training, or at least four years of professional experience in a STEM field—may also be considered.

Individuals who make it through the initial selection process will undergo medical evaluations, psychological testing, and psychiatric screening to asses whether they are physically and mentally capable of participating in the long-duration mission.

Applicants with food allergies, avoidances, or gastrointestinal disorders, will not be selected as they cannot be accommodated during the mission.

In addition, applicants taking specific medications are also disqualified, such as blood pressure medications, blood thinners, seizure medications, daily allergy medications, diabetic insulin daily, sleeping aids, ADHD/ADD medications, antidepressants and anxiety medications.

Candidates will also be required to provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

NASA will be providing compensation for the individuals who are eventually selected to take part in the mission.

Mars Dune Alpha habitat
A conceptual rendering of the Mars Dune Alpha on Mars. ICON/NASA