NASA installed a… planet Mars on Earth, for astronaut training

By | May 17, 2023

HE road to mars It is long and full of dangers. One challenge is getting humans to the Red Planet. Another is, once they get there, manage to survive for a long period of time.

In order to prepare astronauts for an extended stay on Mars, the last NASA simulation mission With the code CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) will isolate four people at a specially configured base in Texas for 378 days – this is how long a crewed mission is expected to stay on the surface of Mars.

Once on base, they will participate in simulated activities and science tasks, eat astronaut meals, and troubleshoot their equipment, all while undergoing harsh physical and psychological tests.

the first simulation will start in june and they will continue two moreeach with a different crew in exactly the same conditions, with the last one starting in 2026.

“We created one hifi script staying on the surface of Mars,” explains O CHAPEA Researcher Scott M. Smith. Participants will have 22 minute communication delay with the outside world, as would happen to astronauts on Mars, while specific ambient sounds will be heard continuously from speakers around the base.

The base was named “Alpha Mars Dune”It has been designed by the Danish architecture studio Bjarke Ingels Group and the 3D printing company ICON and it’s inside a shed of yours Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. It was “printed” in a month from a cement recipe that ICON calls “Lavacrete”, but on Mars it will be used regolith of the planet’s surface.

What does the simulation base include?

extension base 160 square meters It has a work area, a relaxation area and a kitchen, private bedrooms, a bathroom, a doctor’s office, a communications center, a gym, an inner chamber and a pseudo outdoor space, simulating the surface of Mars.

“Separating the living spaces from the work space is very important,” says Smith. “It was one of the comments the designers heard from their teams International Space Station. When you live in the same area where you work, it is absolutely necessary have the option of isolation».

The first inhabitants of the base will be scientists and engineers. Kelly Houston, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and Alyssa Shannon. With this simulation, NASA hopes to fill what it calls “Strategic Knowledge Gaps.”

The four big risks

“Right now there is four main risks”explains Smith. “Radiation; SANS syndrome (microgravity-induced eye and optic nerve swelling after prolonged exposure); crew behavior and performance; and diet”.

Although the simulation will not take into account the effect of radiation and reduced gravity (on Mars it is about 38% that of Earth), it is expected to provide meaningful results. conclusions about health and performance of astronauts. And diet plays a key role in this.

“From history we learn that nutrition can determine the success or failure of major campaignswhether humans were crossing oceans or exploring the Arctic and Antarctic,” says Scott M. Smith.

The trip to Mars is estimated not it will take six to nine months. A manned mission will deliver food to the planet before the “settlers” arrive, which means it is necessary very long life.

“The last food is estimated to be consumed about five years from the time we shipped it out of here,” Smith explains.

The four inhabitants of the base will consume rations corresponding to those of the astronauts of the International Space Station, but they will also have the possibility of growing vegetablesthat will help them not only nutritionally but also psychologically.

During your stay you grant for consideration samples of blood, urine, saliva and feces, while behavior is closely monitored them and their physical performance. Even after the end of the simulation they will pass many weeks of medical exams at the Johnson Space Center.

With information from: Mars on Earth: NASA researchers will spend a year living in a simulated habitat by Thomas Page, CNN

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