NASA Launches Long-Term Mars Habitat Simulation

( – NASA commenced its 378-day Mars simulation on Sunday, June 25, which is intended to put astronauts in an environment that replicates life on Mars as closely as possible.

The simulation is taking place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and is the first ground-based three-year Mars simulation called the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA).

The simulation will include a four-person crew, which will be housed in a Mars-like 1,700-square-foot habitat that contains a house, as well as red-colored soil on the outside meant to replicate the red planet’s surface.

During the simulation, the crew members will act as if they are on Mars and will be given tasks to do that are expected to be necessary if astronauts do one day land and live there. Such tasks can range from health care, such as drawing blood or personal hygiene, to food production, such as using the soil to grow food.

The crew is composed of Commander Kelly Haston, flight engineer Ross Brockwell, medical officer Nathan Jones and science officer Anca Selariu. All of the crew members have backgrounds in science and engineering, and will be required to eat, drink and exercise in the simulation.

The only thing that the simulation cannot replicate, according to NASA, is the red planet’s gravity, which is significantly weaker than Earth’s gravity due to the planet being significantly smaller.

A 100 kilogram person on Earth would only weigh 38 kilograms. The length of a Martian year is also considerably longer, 687 days, which is almost double Earth’s 365-day years.

However, while the simulation cannot properly emulate Mars’ gravity, it is equipped with virtual reality devices that allow the crew members to simulate Mars walks, as well as other tasks that may need to be completed, such as getting dust out of a space suit or repairing the habitat.

The news comes as other space organizations in the private sector, such as SpaceX, also have ambitions to go to Mars using their starship spaceship program, which would supposedly take six months to get from Earth to Mars.

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