NASA has its eye on crewed missions to deep space in the coming years, but what impact will these longer journeys have on the human mind and body?
To learn more, NASA and its counterparts around the world have been conducting occasional Earth-based simulation tests that involve placing a small number of people in conditions that replicate a long mission. And you could get involved in the next round of research.
This week the U.S. space agency launched a recruitment drive for its next SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station) mission that will involve eight months of isolation. And that means proper isolation: Eight months in a closed environment with no internet and no phone lines — though email is permitted.
If you’re selected for this unique paid opportunity, you’ll help NASA learn more about the physiological and psychological effects of isolation and confinement on humans as the agency prepares for missions to the moon and onward to Mars.
NASA’s Human Research Program operates in partnership with the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ ground experimental facility to conduct a series of missions as part of SIRIUS in Moscow.
The criteria for applicants is pretty strict in places, so let’s dive straight in.
First, you have to be a U.S. citizen and aged between 30 and 55, though candidates as young as 28 may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, you need to be a professional with science, technology, engineering, or math-related education (minimum bachelor’s degree, advanced degree preferred) and experience, and/or two years of military experience (with military officer training preferred).
You also need to be willing to be confined and isolated for up to 12 months, with a total of 16 months spent in Moscow, Russia (time that includes pre- and post-mission activities).
You should also be proficient in Russian and English, and, finally, be a non-smoker in good physical health, with a BMI between 18.5 and 30, and a height not exceeding 6 foot 1 inch. Still in? Here’s how to apply.
The mission will involve six international male and female crew members, with two crew members selected from the U.S. by NASA.
NASA said it will release a guided virtual tour of the isolation space in the coming weeks, and decide upon a start date for the exercise once the worst of the pandemic passes.
A comprehensive Q&A page can be found on NASA’s website.
One of six participants who emerged from a year-long isolation exercise inside a 13,570-cubic-foot dome in a NASA-sponsored experiment in 2016 described their experience as “kind of like having roommates that just are always there and you can never escape them, so I’m sure some people can imagine what that is like and if you can’t then just imagine never being able to get away from anybody.”
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