NASA plans yearlong Mars simulation to test limits of isolation

An illustration depicts a common space in the interior of a Mars simulation habitat planned by NASA. Image courtesy of ICON Technology

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 2 (UPI) — NASA wants four people to test the limits of human isolation by placing them in a simulated Mars habitat for a year, cut off from the world except for delayed communication and possible simulated spacesuit walks.

The simulation, planned for Johnson Space Center in Houston, won’t be the first time the space agency attempts to mimic a stay on Mars, but it will be one of the longest.

NASA seeks applicants between 30 and 55 years old who are willing and able to perform a daily routine that could include taking cognitive tests, performing indoor exercise, eating prepackaged food, engaging in limited social media and working on indoor gardens of leafy greens.

“NASA has a lot of good data on astronauts in the space station for up to six months. We’ve got a lot of good health data, performance data,” Michele Parker, a NASA project manager, told UPI.

“But we don’t have a lot of data beyond that six-month mark, or associated with challenges that we would experience on Mars, especially for the communication delays and limits on fresh food,” Parker said.

Such delays could be up to 45 minutes, she said, to simulate the period when Mars is farthest from Earth at 249 million miles.


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