NASA wants to pay you to live in a Mars simulation for a year

Have you ever wanted to live on Mars? Now, you can — as long as you're fine with Mars being located in Houston.

Last Friday, NASA announced that it is looking to hire four people to participate in a yearlong program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Selected crew members will live together in a 1,700 square-foot facility, meant to simulate the experience of living on Mars: isolation, limited access to resources and lots of space food.

The qualifications are hefty, and fairly similar to some of NASA's actual astronaut requirements: You'd need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a nonsmoker, between the ages of 30 and 55 and have a master's degree in a STEM field, among other requirements.

Applications close on September 17, for a program set to start in Fall 2022. According to NASA, it'll include compensation — though the amount is unclear.

Selected applicants will use virtual reality to simulate real missions, from participating in spacewalks to workshopping solutions for potential mid-mission problems. The proactive activities — which will also include growing crops in a Mars-like environment — are partially intended to keep participants engaged and productive while living in isolation for an extended period of time.

Research has shown that staying productive while isolated is easier said than done, as many Americans have learned the hard way over the last year and half. That's due, in part, to factors like family and childcare responsibilities, access to a stable internet connection and mental health issues like depression.

Solutions can range from staying in touch with your doctor or therapist to creating a routine and carving out time to catch up on movies and books — all of which, incidentally, could also be useful for anyone applying to NASA's program.

To apply, you'll need to create an account, submit an application and answer a series of questions. If your application is selected, you will then need to undergo a series of medical, psychological and psychiatric evaluations and screenings. The agency is accepting applications until September 17, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. CDT.

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