NASA Is Looking For Martians

NASA is looking for Martians. That sounds like a better plan that the people at SETI have. Do spend all your time looking for aliens, just put an ad out and wait for them to come to you.

However, it’s not real Martians they’re after. They're looking for four plucky volunteers to spend a year living on Mars. Don’t do it. I’m not expert but I saw a film with Matt Damon in it and you have to poo on your potatoes or something.

Not only are they not looking for real Martians it’s not the actual Mars, it’s a 3D-printed replica of it. In reality they’re looking for four people who hate people so much they want to lock themselves away. And who wouldn’t want to spend a year locked up with people like that?

It’s for NASA's Chapea programme (that's Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog for those of you who love a good acronym). The aim? To develop and test the systems that will be used by the first astronauts to visit Mars, with missions planned for the 2030s. So, best case scenario, you DON’T go mad.

The lucky (or should that be brave?) volunteers will be living in a cosy 1,700 sq ft habitat called Mars Dune Alpha. The might seem small for some so they should recruit from people who live in London who would love that much space.

It's designed to simulate the challenges of a Mars mission, including resource limitations, equipment failures, communication delays. It’s like being on the 3 mobile network.

The crew will undertake simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, habitat maintenance, exercise, and even crop growth in the computer-generated reconstruction of the Martian surface.

It might seem silly doing all of this pretend stuff, but remember many people spend their evenings playing computer games pretending they’re answering the Call of Duty, so it’s not too bad.

There are a few requirements. You'll need a university degree in engineering, mathematics, or biological, physical or computer science, and subsequent experience in those fields, or 1,000 hours as a pilot.

If you are a qualified pilot and you want to spend a year grounded, trapped in a space that’s too small to fly in, you probably weren’t a great pilot anyway.

It seems like a faff now but imagine how good that gig would have been to get just before the pandemic.

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