NASA Invites You to Join a Simulated Mars Mission for a Year

Have you ever dreamed of going to Mars? If you are a healthy, non-smoking U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a STEM degree and some professional experience, you might have a chance to join a simulated Mars mission for a year. NASA is looking for volunteers to participate in its second CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) mission, which will start in spring 2025.

What is CHAPEA and Why is it Important?

CHAPEA is a series of three ground-based missions that aim to study the effects of living and working in a Mars-like environment on human health and performance. Each mission involves a four-person crew that stays inside a 3D-printed habitat called the Mars Dune Alpha, located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The habitat is about 1,700 square feet and has a kitchen, two bathrooms, private bedrooms, a work area, and a recreational area.


The crew members have to perform various tasks that simulate a real Mars mission, such as conducting spacewalks, operating robots, maintaining the habitat, growing crops, and communicating with mission control. They also have to cope with the challenges and stressors of living on Mars, such as resource limitations, equipment failures, communication delays, and isolation.

The purpose of CHAPEA is to collect scientific data that will help NASA prepare for the first human expedition to Mars, which is expected to happen in the 2030s. The data will help NASA understand the physical and mental impacts of long-duration spaceflight, and develop solutions to support the health and well-being of the astronauts. The data will also help NASA design and test the systems and technologies that will be used on Mars, such as life support, power, and communication.

Who Can Apply and How to Apply?

NASA is looking for applicants who meet the following criteria:

  • Healthy, motivated, non-smoking U.S. citizens or permanent residents
  • Between 30 and 55 years old
  • Proficient in English for effective communication between crew and mission control
  • Have a master’s degree in a STEM field and two years of professional STEM experience, or 1,000 hours of piloting experience
  • Have a strong desire for unique, rewarding adventures and an interest in contributing to NASA’s work to prepare for the first human journey to Mars

The deadline for applications is April 2, 2024. Applicants will have to undergo additional screening and selection processes, based on NASA’s astronaut candidate criteria. The selected crew members will receive compensation for participating in the mission. More information will be provided during the candidate screening process.

What is the Status and Outlook of CHAPEA?

The second CHAPEA mission is scheduled to start in spring 2025 and last for one year. The first CHAPEA mission started in June 2023 and is still ongoing. The first crew consists of four volunteers with diverse backgrounds and skills, such as a microbiologist, a physician, a geologist, and a pilot. They have been sharing their experience and insights through social media and blog posts, showing the daily life and challenges of living on a simulated Mars.

The third and final CHAPEA mission is planned to start in spring 2026 and last for one year. NASA hopes that the three CHAPEA missions will provide valuable information and feedback that will inform and improve its future plans for human exploration of Mars. NASA also hopes that the CHAPEA missions will inspire and engage the public and the next generation of explorers, scientists, and engineers.

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