NASA has officially kicked off one of its biggest and most intriguing experiments to date. Four non-astronauts will be locked up in NASA’s fake Mars Base. This will simulate how four people would feel living without the usual luxuries like TV, cell phones and internet while on Mars.
This particular experiment is the first of three planned missions known as the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) missions. The participants, which include research scientist Kelly Haston, structural engineer Ross Brockwell, emergency physician Nathan Jones, and Anca Selariu, a US Navy microbiologist, will remain within the 3D-printed environment for 378 days.
The purpose of the experiment is to see what effect such cramped and isolated quarters may have on human health. Maintaining good physical and mental health will be important for all four of these participants, and will help NASA see how an extended stay on planets like Mars might affect human astronauts well into the future.
Understanding exactly how this NASA fake Mars base will affect people is important to help shape how NASA approaches mental and physical health concerns in future deep space missions, including the Artemis missions that will see astronauts taking up temporary residence on the Moon for longer studies.
The experiment is no joke, either. NASA states the simulation contains private crew quarters and a variety of areas, including a medical center, kitchen and recreation and fitness facilities, as well as work and growth zones. There are also technical work areas and two bathrooms. During the simulation, the participants will need to manage equipment failures, environmental stresses, and resource limitations.
They’ll also be performing simulated spacewalks as well as growing crops in a similar fashion to what NASA hopes will be possible when astronauts finally make a manned mission to Mars. It’s still far from being able to colonize another planet as in books and movies. But this simulation, and those that follow, will hopefully set a groundwork for the space agency to rely on in the future.
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