Life on (not actually) Mars

NASA just locked four people in a 3D-printed habitat on a fake Mars for one year.

Last week, NASA sent a group of brave explorers to live on Mars… sort of.


The Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) mission simulates life on Mars by putting four humans in a 3D-printed habitat in Houston for a year.


Four paid volunteers who we hope get along really well:

  • Kelly Haston, a biologist
  • Ross Brockwell, a structural engineer
  • Nathan Jones, a physician
  • Anca Selariu, a US Navy microbiologist

Selection criteria was the same as for any astronaut, requiring a combination of STEM, piloting, and/or military experience.

And they’re inside a 3D-printed habitat?

Yep. Icon, a company that builds 3D-printed homes, created the 1.7k-square-foot Mars Dune Alpha out of its proprietary building material, Lavacrete.

Inside are four tiny private bedrooms, workstations, a medical area, communal lounge areas, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and a place to grow food.

Outside is a 1.2k-square-foot area called the “sandbox.” It’s filled with red-dyed sand to mimic Mars’ surface during simulated spacewalks.

What are they doing?

This is the first of three yearlong missions planned inside the Mars Dune Alpha.

The participants’ 378day stay will help NASA understand how to best serve human needs — e.g., nutrition, exercise, personal hygiene, mental health — on real missions to Mars in the future.

NASA will also study how the group copes with isolation in a confined space with limited resources, equipment failure, and other stressors.

Wanna see more? Here’s a video of the habitat from NASA.

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