NASA needs 'astronauts' to live in isolation for 8 months

The coronavirus lockdown may mean you're well prepared to take on the ultimate challenge and help the human race reach another world. NASA is looking at the psychological and physical problems that will face astronauts on long-range missions to Mars and beyond, reports the Daily Star. And they need healthy volunteers willing to live in total isolation for an eight-month simulated mission in a special facility near Moscow.

They may never leave the ground, but the 'astronauts' will be subject to all the stresses and strains of an eight-month journey to the red planet. The Institute for Biomedical Problems has played host to this kind of simulation before, the longest being an epic 520-day 'mission' starting in June 2010. The all-male crew relied on supplies of food, equipment and other essentials packed inside a mock spaceship.

Only electricity, water and air were topped up from the outside world. For this next mission, a small international crew will live together in isolation for eight months. They'll use virtual reality headsets to control experimental robots, and conduct various other scientific experiments designed to show how a crew in long-term isolation handle the stress of an extended space mission.

Once the doors are sealed shut, the volunteers will be cut off from all contact with the outside world except by a delayed radio link. They will face simulated emergencies as well as a daily work routine. They'll have to deal with as well as boredom and, no doubt, personal friction from confinement in just 550 cubic metres, the equivalent of nine truck containers.

While the test subjects will be paid by NASA, no specific sum has been mentioned.

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The application form simply says "There are different levels of compensation depending upon whether or not you are associated with NASA or if you are a NASA employee or contractor." The required qualifications will rule out most of us though. NASA say it's looking for US citizens aged between 30 and 55 who are fluent in both English and Russian.

Military officer training, or a science degree or other similar qualification are also considered essential.

If you think you measure up, go to NASA's website to register your interest.

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