A NASA Mars simulation has begun, and the crew will remain inside for one year

Four volunteers have been locked inside a NASA-designed Mars base since June 25, according to a CBS report.

The simulation will run 378 days and will experience the real-world human challenges you will face during a mission to Mars. The mission’s official name is NASA’s Crew Health and Analog Exploration Performance, or CHAPEA 1.

The simulation takes place in a 1,700-square-foot (158-square-meter) 3D-printed habitat, where the crew will need to perform a series of tasks including simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, crop cultivation, habitat maintenance, personal hygiene, and exercise, according to NASA.

The simulator’s small size means that space is limited but inside there is a kitchen, private crew quarters and two bathrooms, as well as medical, work and entertainment areas. “For Mars to be as realistic as possible, the crew will also face environmental stresses such as resource constraints, isolation, and equipment failures,” NASA said in a press release.

This simulation is the first of three planned simulations of the Martian surface, each expected to last one year. The information gathered and studied during these missions, along with the ongoing exploration that takes place on and around the Moon, will help send the first astronauts to Mars in the future.

The NASA-simulated Mars Habitat includes a 1,200-square-foot sandbox with red sand to simulate the Martian landscape. The area will be used to conduct simulated spacewalks, or “Marswalks,” during analog missions. (credit: NASA)

Meet the CHAPEA 1 crew

Expedition leader and research scientist Kelly Haston, structural engineer Ross Brockwell, emergency medicine physician Nathan Jones, and US Navy microbiologist Anka Celario. They were selected from a pool of applicants, none of whom had ever trained as astronauts.

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Named mission commander by NASA, Haston in a press briefing commended her crewmates saying they are “an amazing group of dedicated individuals with a huge passion for space exploration and science.”

“The crew has been working hard this month to prepare for this mission,” Haston said. “It was very special to be part of such an enormous group of scientists and professionals from such a wide variety of backgrounds working together to make CHAPEA 1, the first of three missions, a reality.”

The crew will spend more than a year living and working in a simulated Mars environment built at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

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