How Is NASA Preparing for Future Missions to Mars?

NASA is recruiting applicants for a year-long program simulating life on Mars, in preparation for future missions.
NASA is recruiting applicants for a year-long program simulating life on Mars, in preparation for future missions.

If life on Earth has become too much for you, NASA has an answer: Live on Mars for a year. Well, you wouldn't literally be going to the Red Planet, but you would be living among other would-be Martians in a 1,700-square-foot space meant to simulate what life would be like if you really could make the 240-million-mile journey.

Four people will be chosen to live together in the 3D-printed module set up at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Inside the so-called Mars Dune Alpha, those four lucky volunteers will engage in research tasks including simulated spacewalks and employing robotic equipment. To be Martian material, you need to be an American between 30 and 55 years of age with piloting experience or a master's degree in an appropriate scientific field.

"Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go," said Grace Douglas, the lead scientist for NASA's Advanced Food Technology team.

More on Mars:

  • While ice has been found on Mars, it's unclear whether it ever melts into water, which could sustain life.

  • To live outside on Mars, you'd need to be able to survive extremely cold temperatures and an atmosphere that is almost entirely carbon dioxide.

  • Mars is about half the size of Earth; only Mercury is smaller than the Red Planet.

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    • NASA is recruiting applicants for a year-long program simulating life on Mars, in preparation for future missions.
      By: Mihail Glushakov
      NASA is recruiting applicants for a year-long program simulating life on Mars, in preparation for future missions.