NASA seeks volunteers for Mars isolation study

Volunteers will help researchers observe the effects of isolation in tight quarters for the months-long trip to Mars.

Laurel Kornfeld | May 21, 2020

In conjunction with its goal of sending humans to the Moon and Mars, NASA is looking for US citizen volunteers to take part in an eight-month isolation study simulating life on a long spacecraft mission.

Selected participants will spend eight months in a spacecraft simulation in Moscow, Russia. Their environment will be much like that on a spacecraft heading to Mars, involving scientific research, use of virtual reality, and conducting robotic operations, much like astronauts would on the way to the Moon or Mars.

The goal of the experiment is to better understand the physiological and psychological effects of long-term isolation and confinement of a crew in a very small space. Data from the study will be used to address the challenges astronauts on future missions will face.

A spacecraft transporting astronauts to the Moon or Mars will be much smaller than the International Space Station (ISS), which consists of several modules and a recreation area.

Participants must be healthy US citizens between ages 30 and 55 who are proficient in both English and Russian. They must have an MS, PhD, or MD, or have completed military officer training. Those with Bachelors degrees will be considered if they have additional relevant educational, professional, or military training.

Varying amounts of compensation will be offered depending on whether participants are NASA employees, contractors, or otherwise associated with the space agency.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, those selected for the experiment will be required to quarantine for two weeks prior to the mission's start to make sure they are not coming down with the virus or getting sick, much like ISS astronauts do.

The study is a followup to a similar four-month isolation experiment NASA conducted last year.

Anyone who meets mission requirements and wants to contribute to space exploration should visit the application site.