Have I got a job offer for you!

Paula LaBrot
Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot

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Have I got a job offer for you!
Mars Dune Alpha, a 3D-printed 1,700 square foot Mars habitat, under construction.
NASA is now taking applications in a search for people to live for a year in a Martian habitat called Mars Dune Alpha. To prepare for sending astronauts to Mars, a series of missions called the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) is looking for highly motivated individuals to participate in three, one-year Mars surface simulations. Who Can Apply? According to The Epoch Times, “…they’re not seeking just anybody. The requirements are strict: a Master’s degree in a science, engineering, or math field, or pilot experience. Only American citizens or permanent U.S. residents are eligible. Applicants have to be between 30 and 55, in good physical health with no dietary issues, and not prone to motion sickness.” Applications will be taken until Sept. 17. “That shows NASA is looking for people who are close to astronauts,” said former Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield. And, he said, “That’s a good thing because it is a better experiment if the participants are more similar to the people who will really go to Mars. Past Russian efforts at a pretend Mars mission called Mars 500 didn’t end well partly because the people were too much like everyday people.” Hadfield says attitude is key, stating that members would have to be “tremendously competent, resourceful and never counting on different folks to really feel comfy.” Paid volunteers will be scheduled to start the first year of confined habitat living in 2022. Mars Dune Alpha Mars Dune Alpha is a 3D-printed, 1,700-square-foot Mars habitat located at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, which has served as a hub of human spaceflight activity for more than half a century. It is home to the nation’s astronaut corps, the International Space Station mission operations, the Orion Program, and a host of future space development. ICON, a developer of advanced construction technologies including robotics, software, and building materials, will build the structure, designed by world-renowned architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group. It will simulate a realistic Mars habitat designed to support long-duration, exploration-class space missions. According to ICON, “…the layout of the innovative structure is organized in a gradient of privacy. Four private crew quarters will be located on one end of the habitat; dedicated workstations, medical stations and food-growing stations are located on the opposite end, with shared living spaces found in between. There are two bathrooms, one at either end. Varying ceiling heights, vertically segmented by an arching shell structure, accentuate the unique experience of each area to avoid spatial monotony and crew member fatigue. A mix of fixed and movable furniture will allow crew members to reorganize the habitat according to their daily needs, as will the customizable lighting, temperature, and sound control–helping regulate the daily routine, circadian rhythm, and overall well-being of the crew.” NASA says 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 structure will be constructed using ICON’s Vulcan 3D printer which extrudes a proprietary “Lavacrete” material. This approach is part of the new additive manufacturing technology sweeping the construction industry. Additive manufacturing is 3D printing. It allows researchers to create physical, three-dimensional objects directly from a computer design file. It’s similar to how common desktop printers form images—but instead of ink, 3D printers use a wide variety of materials ranging from polymer composites, metals, and ceramics to food, foams, gels, and even living tissue, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.   “This is the highest-fidelity simulated habitat ever constructed by humans,” says, Jason Ballard, CEO of ICON. “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.” The Purpose of the Mars Dune Project Ballard is clear about the mission. “Mars Dune Alpha is intended to serve a very specific purpose: to prepare humans to live on another planet.” The four people who live there for one year will 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. “The analog is critical for testing solutions to meet the complex needs of living on the Martian surface,” said Grace Douglas, lead scientist for NASA’s advanced food technology research. “Simulations on Earth will help us understand and counter the physical and mental challenges astronauts will face before they go.” Citizen Scientists I love that NASA is recruiting from the general public for the Mars Dune Alpha project. The requirements are demanding, but I am a firm believer in the unsung, humble talent and genius of “ordinary people.” Billionaires may be able to afford to shoot themselves off into space, but in this project, if you have the Right Stuff, YOU have a shot at getting us one step closer to the stars. Vamos a ver!
Mars Dune Alpha habitat Interior
Paula Labrot

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September 3, 2021