The next time that Kelly Haston, Ross Brockwell, Nathan Jones and Anca Selariu will see blue sky, a year will have gone by on Earth.
Not that the four “analog astronauts” are leaving the planet, but for the next 12 months they will live inside a mock Mars base located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where they will be remotely observed and studied by scientists. As the first of three planned Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, or CHAPEA, crews, Haston, Brockwell, Jones and Selariu will help inform the space agency how to better design and plan for future human missions on the real Martian surface.
Mission 1 gets underway tonight (June 25) as the four volunteers enter the 1,700-square-foot (158 square meters) habitat, known as “Mars Dune Alpha,” at 7:30 p.m. EDT (2330 GMT). They will not leave the 3D-printed structure — other than to conduct the occasional Mars-walk within an adjoining 1,200-square-foot (111 square m), enclosed Mars “sandbox” — until July 7, 2024.