Space boffins have unveiled what they expect life on Mars to look like – and it is far from out of this world.
NASA has built a habitat astronauts will be expected to live in when they visit the Red Planet.
And it is nothing to write home about. Their lives will evolve around four small rooms, a brick-maker, greenhouse…and lots of red sand.
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The US space agency’s Mars-simulation habitat – in which volunteers will live for a year at a time to test what life will be like on missions – paints a bleak and boring picture of the future.
The facility, created for three planned experiments called the Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog or CHAPEA, is located at NASA’s research base in Houston, Texas.
Four volunteers will begin the first trial this summer during which scientists will to monitor their physical and mental health to better understand humans’ fortitude for such a long isolation.
Lead researcher Grace Douglas said the simulation will allow the space agency to better understand astronauts’ "resource use" on Mars.
"We can really start to understand how we’re supporting them with what we’re providing them and that’s going to be really important information to making those critical resource decisions."
Such a distant mission comes with "very strict mass limitations", she added.
The volunteers will live inside a 1,700 sq ft home dubbed Mars Dune Alpha which includes two bathrooms, a vertical farm to grow salad, a room dedicated to medical care, an area for relaxing and several workstations.
An airlock leads to a reconstruction of the Martian outdoors – still located inside the hangar.
Several pieces of must-have equipment for astronauts are scattered around the red sand-covered floor including a weather station, brick-making machine and greenhouse.
There is also a treadmill on which the astronauts will walk suspended from straps to simulate the Red Planet’s reduced gravity.
They will use it to simulate long trips outside to collect samples, gathering data or build infrastructure.
The first volunteers have yet to be named but the agency said selection `will follow standard NASA criteria for astronaut candidate applicants’ with an emphasis on backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and maths.
NASA is in the early stages of preparation for a mission to Mars.
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