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Nasa is looking for volunteers for a trip to Mars – what the "analog mission" is all about

Whoever flies to Mars has to face many challenges. NASA takes precautions and is looking for the curious for a so-called “analog mission”.

Frankfurt – First back to the moon, then on to Mars * – that is the long-term plan of the US space organization Nasa *. Two NASA rovers and several orbiters are currently exploring the red planet, as no astronauts have made it there yet. There are several reasons for this. In addition to a lack of equipment (there is neither a rocket nor a space capsule, let alone a spacesuit that would be suitable for Mars), it is primarily about human factors.

Mars is very far away, a trip there would take several months, during which the space travelers would have to live together in a very small space in a spaceship. Once on the red planet, the researchers would have to cope with extremely adverse circumstances: Cramped accommodations, a hostile planet (the radiation on Mars alone can be fatal for humans in the long run), a long mission and hardly any contact with the outside world just a few of the issues that will arise for people who will one day explore Mars. But how will they cope with such conditions? To find out, NASA is planning a long-term study to simulate a Mars mission.

Das 3D-gedruckte simulierte Mars-Modul „Mars Dune Alpha“ wird in einer Halle im Johnson Space Center der Nasa stehen – und nicht auf dem Mars.


The 3D-printed simulated Mars module “Mars Dune Alpha” will be in a hall in NASA’s Johnson Space Center – and not on Mars.

NASA analog mission to Mars: simulate problems before they occur on the red planet

Three annual Mars simulations are to take place one after the other in the Johnson Space Center of NASA. Methods and technologies are to be developed and tested to prevent or solve potential problems in future Mars missions. Simulated missions of this type are called “analog missions”. “Simulations on Earth will help us understand the physical and mental challenges faced by the astronauts,” explains Nasa employee Grace Douglas. “The analog mission is important to test solutions.”

Each of the three analog missions should consist of four team members, each team should live and work in an approximately 158 square meter, 3D-printed module called “Mars Dune Alpha”. This accommodation will not be on Mars, but in a hall at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where it is being built by a 3D printer. The analogue mission will simulate the challenges of Mars missions in the habitat – including limited resources, defective equipment and delayed communication with Earth. Because of the great distance between Earth and Mars, this delay in communication can be more than forty minutes.

Simulated NASA mission to Mars: take over tasks from astronauts

According to NASA, the analog astronauts should take on tasks during the Mars simulation that would also apply to the astronauts on a real Mars mission: (simulated) field operations, scientific research, the use of robotic arms and making contact with “Mission Control”.

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Before the simulated Mars mission can start in autumn 2022, NASA is looking for candidates for the program. However, only US citizens between 30 and 55 years of age who are either pilots or have trained in the natural sciences and technology can apply. Another important requirement: Applicants are not allowed to smoke.

It will be some time before NASA actually sends astronauts to Mars for the first time. Most recently, it was heard that NASA is targeting the year 2037 as the year in which humans set foot on Mars for the first time – but until then a lot can still happen in space travel *. Robots are currently exploring Mars for NASA. Most recently, the “Curiosity” rover discovered a “strange structure” on Mars. The small helicopter “Ingenuity” caused a surprise on Mars and caused NASA to change its plans. (tab) * is an offer from IPPEN.MEDIA.

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