How to apply for NASA’s next Mars habitat simulation

Looking for a change of pace from your day-to-day routine? Life on Earth feeling a bit overwhelming at the moment? How about a one-year residency alongside three strangers at a 3D-printed Mars habitat simulation?

On Friday, NASA announced it is now accepting applications for the second of three missions in its ongoing Crew Health and Performance Analog (CHAPEA) experiment. For 12 months, a quartet of volunteers will reside within Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot residence based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where they can expect to experience “resource limitations, equipment failures, communication delays, and other environmental stressors.” 

[Related: To create a small Mars colony, leave the jerks on Earth.]

When not pretending to fight for your survival on a harsh, barren Martian landscape, CHAPEA team members will also conduct virtual reality spacewalk simulations, perform routine maintenance on the Mars Dune Alpha structure itself, oversee robotic operations, and grown their own crops, all while staying in shape through regular exercise regimens.

But if the thought of pretending to reside 300 million miles away from your current home sounds appealing, well… cool your jets. NASA makes it clear that there are a few requirements applicants must meet before being considered for the jobs—such as a master’s degree in a STEM field like engineering, computer science, or mathematics. Then you’ll need either two years professional experience in a related field, or a minimum of 1,000 hours spent piloting aircrafts. Also, only non-smokers between 30 and 55-years-old will be considered, and military experience certainly sounds like a plus.

Oh, and you’ll also need to fill out NASA’s lengthy questionnaire, which includes entries like, “Are you willing to have no communication outside of your crew without a minimum time delay of 20 minutes for extended periods (up to one year)?” and, “Are you willing to consume processed, shelf-stable spaceflight foods for a year with no input into the menu?”

It’s certainly a lot to consider. But as tough as it might be, simulations like CHAPEA are vital for NASA’s Artemis plans to establish a permanent human presence on both the moon and Mars. The truly intrepid and accomplished among you have until April 2 to fill out the official application. Seeing as how CHAPEA’s inaugural class is currently about halfway through their one-year stint, this second round of volunteers won’t need to report for duty until sometime in 2025.