In preparation for a long-term stay on Mars, NASA will run a new simulation mission called CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog). For 378 days, four individuals will be isolated on a mock base on Mars in Texas. This period corresponds to the estimated duration of a manned Mars mission to the surface.
Dubbed “Mars Dune Alpha,” the habitat consists of several sections, including a workspace, living area, kitchen, private bedrooms and bathroom, medical room, communications center, gym, airlock, and an “external zone” that includes the surface of Mars.
For more than twelve months, the four participants, Kelly Huston, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and Alyssa Shannon, will live in a living environment of barely 158 square meters.
“The separation between the living area and the work area was very intentional,” says Smith. “This was one of the comments designers heard from the International Space Station (ISS) crews. When you live in your office, being able to physically separate is important.”
22 minutes late
Within the living environment, participants will follow a set schedule, participate in activities and scientific work, eat the same meals as astronauts, and deal with equipment maintenance and malfunctions. At the same time, they will undergo extensive psychological and physiological testing. The first simulation will start in June, followed by two more simulations with different participants under identical conditions. The last simulation will start in 2026.
“We have developed a scenario for a mission to Mars with high credibility,” said Scott M. Smith, CHAPEA Associate Investigator. Participants will experience a 22-minute delay in external communications, just like astronauts on Mars. Ambient sound is played through speakers around the base, so no outside noise can be heard. “
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