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Want to pretend to live on Mars? For a whole year? Apply now

Author
AP,
Publish Date
Sat, 7 Aug 2021, 1:44pm
This photo provided by ICON and Nasa in August 2021 shows a proposal for the Mars Dune Alpha habitat on Mars. (Photo / AP)
This photo provided by ICON and Nasa in August 2021 shows a proposal for the Mars Dune Alpha habitat on Mars. (Photo / AP)

Want to pretend to live on Mars? For a whole year? Apply now

Author
AP,
Publish Date
Sat, 7 Aug 2021, 1:44pm

Want to find your inner Matt Damon and spend a year pretending you are isolated on Mars? Nasa has a job for you.

To prepare for eventually sending astronauts to Mars, Nasa has begun taking applications for four people to live for a year in Mars Dune Alpha. That's a 1700sq ft Martian habitat, created by a 3D printer, and inside a building at Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

The paid volunteers will work a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources and equipment failures.

Nasa is planning three of these experiments, the first starting in autumn next year. Food will be ready-to-eat space food and at the moment there are no windows planned. Some plants will be grown, but not potatoes like in the movie "The Martian". Damon played stranded astronaut Mark Watney, who survived on spuds.

"We want to understand how humans perform in them," lead scientist Grace Douglas said. "We are looking at Mars realistic situations."

The application process opened today and they're not seeking just anybody. The requirements are strict, including a master's degree in a science, engineering or math field or pilot experience. Only American citizens or permanent US residents are eligible.

Applicants have to be between 30 and 55, in good physical health with no dietary issues and not prone to motion sickness.

That shows Nasa is looking for people who are close to astronauts, former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield said. That was a good thing because it was a better experiment if the participants were more similar to the people who will really go to Mars. Past Russian efforts at a pretend Mars mission called Mars 500 didn't end well partly because the people were too much like everyday people, he said.

For the right person this could be great, said Hadfield, who spent five months in orbit in 2013 at the International Space Station, where he played guitar and sang a cover video of David Bowie's "Space Oddity".

The paid volunteers will work a simulated Martian exploration mission complete with spacewalks, limited communications back home, restricted food and resources and equipment failures. (Photo / AP)

"Just think how much you're going to be able to catch up on Netflix," he said. "If they have a musical instrument there, you could go into there knowing nothing and come out a concert musician, if you want."

There could be "incredible freedom" in a "year away from the demands of your normal life".

Attitude would be key, said Hadfield, who has a novel "The Apollo Murders" coming out in the fall. He said the participants need to be like Damon's Watney character: "Super competent, resourceful and not relying on other people to feel comfortable."

- AP