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NASA Seeks Four People to Pretend to Live on Mars

NASA can't send anyone to Mars just yet, but it's seeking four people to pretend it has.

Simulated Mars landscape
Credit: Unsplash

NASA has put out a rare call for applicants to spend one year in a simulated Mars habitat - and it's willing to pay. The agency is looking for healthy adults with science degrees or military or piloting experience.

The Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) is running a series of one-year "missions" where volunteers who can act as astronauts would in space - NASA calls them analog astronauts - live inside a 3D printed habitat in Houston, Texas.

The 1,700-square-foot space, called the Mars Dune Alpha, mimics the habitats NASA may one day build on Mars to shelter astronauts.

The program's first four-person crew has been living in the structure since last July. NASA's reports on their progress hint at what the job is like: growing vegetables, simulating "Marswalks" in a sandbox, overseeing science experiments like those done on the International Space Station, and following a strict exercise regimen.

Now NASA is seeking applicants for its second CHAPEA mission, to start in spring 2025. The Houston Chronicle reports that NASA is paying the CHAPEA crew about $10 per every waking hour they spend on the mission, amounting to 16 hours a day, every day, for a full year. The paycheck? Roughly $60,000.

Applications are open until 2 April.


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