NASA recently announced that they are recruiting four people to experience a year-long Mars Mission. They will live in the Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed 1,700-square-foot Mars habitat that simulates what it feels like to live on the Red Planet.

According to the previous report of Science Times, NASA is already taking applications from "highly motivated individuals" to participate in one of the three one-year Mars surface simulations based at NASA's Johnson Space Center. The series of missions is called the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA).

 Mars Dune Alpha Simulates Living on the Red Planet: What's Inside the 3D-Printed Habitat?
(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
This artist's concept depicts astronauts and human habitats on Mars. NASA's Mars 2020 rover will carry a number of technologies that could make Mars safer and easier to explore for humans. (NASA/JPL)

What Is Inside the Mars Dune Alpha?

According to Woodworking Network, Mars Dune Alpha is designed by Bjarke Ingels' BIG architecture and was designed by ICON construction based in Austin. The 3D-printed Mars habitat will be built at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA is inviting four members of the public to live there for one year to carry out tasks, like spacewalks, scientific research, and simulate life on the Red Planet using virtual reality. Data collected from these tasks will be used to inform future missions on Mars.

Inside the 3D habitat is four private quarters in one end, while there will also be work stations, medical stations, two bathrooms, and areas at the other end of the habitat where they could grow their food.

Moreover, the Mars Dune Alpha has an arching shell structure that gives it varying ceiling heights and accentuating the unique experience in each area to avoid spatial monotony and crew member fatigue.

Crew members will also have the autonomy to reorganize the habitat based on their daily needs because it has a mix of fixed and movable furniture. They can also customize lighting, temperature, and sound control to help them regulate their daily routine, circadian rhythm, and overall well-being.

ICON CEO Jason Ballard said that the Mars Dune Alpha is the highest-fidelity simulated habitat ever constructed, as it was intended for a very specific purpose - to prepare humans for future Mars missions.

"We wanted to develop the most faithful analog possible to aid in humanity's dream to expand into the stars. 3D printing the habitat has further illustrated to us that construction-scale 3D printing is an essential part of humanity's toolkit on earth and to go to the moon and mars to stay," Ballard said in ICON's news release.

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CHAPEA Missions: A Step Towards Mars

The Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) is a series of analog missions that will simulate three one-year Mars missions consisting of four crew members living in the Mars Dune Alpha. The missions will provide data on the physical and behavioral health and performance of crew members that will add information to help future Mars missions.

According to NASA, the habitat will be as realistic as possible to what living on the Red Planet would be like. This will include environmental stressors, like equipment failure, limitations in resources, and significant workloads.

The first analog mission under CHAPEA will start in the fall of 2022, in which recruitment has already begun on August 6, 2021. Analog mission 2 is scheduled for 2024, while analog mission 3 will be in 2025.

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Check out more news and information on Mars in Science Times.