Looking to Live on Mars Without Leaving Earth? NASA Has an Opportunity For You.

If you can't get to Mars, this is a solid alternative

Mars illustration
Illustration of an oblique view of the giant Valles Marineris canyon system on Mars.
Mark Garlick/Getty Images

Do you gaze longingly at a certain red planet in our solar system? Have you been known to watch The Martian and season three of For All Mankind for days at a time? Are there multiple editions of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy scattered around your home? If some or all of these things are true, you — yes, you — might have a fixation on the fourth planet from the sun. And if you’ve ever wanted to live there without traveling into space, well, NASA might want a word with you.

On February 16, NASA began accepting applications for its Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) program — essentially, a 12-month-long Mars simulation taking place a little closer to home. Applicants can submit their relevant information through April 2.

The application covers a lot of ground, including whether or not applicants have spent time in the military and have any health issues that could pose a problem. There’s also a question on whether or not applicants have “a master’s degree or higher in a STEM field” — and a series of questions that spell out the challenges of life on (simulated) Mars.

These include “[going] for extended periods (up to one year) with restricted social media contact” and “[participating] in an isolation and confinement simulation with 3 other participants for one year.” Though for some would-be space travelers, those things might be a feature rather than a bug.

As Engadget’s article on the application points out, these applications are for the second CHAPEA program; the first one is currently underway. NASA’s introduction to the application notes that data from the program will “inform requirements for future Mars missions.” It might not involve traversing the solar system, but if you can’t get to Mars yourself, this might be the next best thing.

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