Pretend Martians Attempt Year of Red Planet Living in NASA Simulator

Feb 28, 2024

The good thing about living on this "Mars base” is if you press the self-destruct button by accident, the place won’t get blown to pieces. 

A, there is no such button. And B, the base in this “space” isn’t real. It’s a simulated Red Planet dome-covered habitat at Houston’s Johnson Space Center. There, four “Martians” with STEM degrees and/or piloting skills are spending a year giving NASA scientists a preview of what it'd be like to live and work on Mars. The mission is taking place before NASA sends astronauts to Mars in the 2030s.     

The current "Martians" are the first of three crews to take on this Crew Health and Performance Analog (CHAPEA) mission. They're more than halfway finished with their stint. It ends in August. Then, a second crew is slated to enter the dome in 2025. The deadline to apply for that stint is April 2.  

The first CHAPEA has been a success, so far, despite some rough patches. Here's one: "I may have accidentally murdered one of our robots," said Nathan Jones, the crew’s medical officer during an equipment failure.   

“We’ve got plenty of duct tape,” flight engineer Ross Brockwell replied in a response recorded by mission control. 

Jones, Brockwell, science officer Anca Selariu, and Commander Kelly Haston have endured simulated crises real Martian crews might see one day. These include supply losses and being forced to ration dwindling food stores. They’ve grown crops and gone on “Marswalks” in the giant sandbox of red dirt outside their 1,700 square foot dome, wearing virtual reality headsets to make the event feel more real. And they’ve watched tons of movies.     

"We're the best movie critics on Mars," Jones told a NASA podcast. "Top four, for sure." 

Reflect: Imagine you’re going to live on Mars for a year as part of a research team. What five objects would you bring to remind you of home?

GIF courtesy @nasa on GIPHY.

A direct quote is when you take another person’s words and place them in your own writing using appropriate citations and punctuation. What word best describes the quotes included in the article? (Common Core RI.5.6; RI.6.6)
a. sad
b. humorous
c. angry
d. stressed
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