On April 17, 2023, NASA selected four participants to conduct the first of three one-year-long analog missions to simulate living on Mars. The overall mission of Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA) is to assess human health and performance in relation to the demands of crewed missions to Mars, especially resource limitation in isolation and confinement. The four volunteers selected will live and work in a 3-D printed, 1,700-square-foot habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. The team comprises commander Kelly Haston, flight engineer Ross Brockwell, medical officer Nathan Jones, and science officer Alyssa Shannon. Two backup crew members, Trevor Clark and Anca Selariu, were also selected.
The CHAPEA team will start its one-year mission in June. During that year, they will experience the challenges expected during a human mission to Mars, including communication delays, equipment failures, resource limitations, and other environmental stressors. The team will also conduct a series of activities, including habitat maintenance, simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, maintenance, and crop growth. Some of these activities will be conducted using virtual reality. The martian environment will be simulated by a red sand 1,200-square-foot sandbox equipped with a treadmill that can be combined with virtual reality for long traverses. The intentions of the traverses will vary throughout the year but will include basic field geology and simulated construction activities. The team will locate and identify rocks of interest, record their unique characteristics, take pictures, and retrieve samples for further analysis. The results of this mission, as well as CHAPEA’s two follow-on missions and the Artemis missions, will help NASA prepare for sending astronauts to Mars in the future. READ MORE