If you’re fit as spit and have a spare 520 days laying around, you could be selected to take a hardcore virtual trip to Mars.
A few lucky Europeans now have the chance to be selected by the European Space Agency and Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems for the Mars500, a 520 day virtual trip to the red planet. The trip will kick off in the Mars500’s sealed facility with a 250-day simulated trip to Mars, followed by a 30 day stay on the planet for some R&R and a 240-day return trip. For the “stay” on Mars, the crew will actually move into a separate module than for the traveling portions. The reason for this simulation is to study the effects of isolation on human “psychological and physiological aspects, such as stress, hormone regulation and immunity, sleep quality, mood and the effectiveness of dietary supplements.”
You can’t just be any schlub to get into the program, though. Preferred candidates will have backgrounds in subjects like medicine, biology, and computer engineering. Plus, they’ll have to pass a screening process similar to that of astronaut selection. This is a little unfair; what we ought to be learning about is the effect that space has on the average person that can’t do basic math and doesn’t get a lick of exercise. If humankind is ever going to travel into space, we’d need to know that anyhow.
Volunteers may only be from ESA member states such as Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden or Canada. This is too bad, because I would be perfect for the study. I would be the guy that freaks out and kills the entire crew, and blames it on space pirates. Plus, I would yell “Get your ass to Mars!” a whole lot. Maybe that’s not what the ESA is looking for, but it’d be a whole lot of fun for me.
If you’d like to sign up, visit http://www.esa.int/callmars500