Since you're in isolation anyway, would you like a job with NASA?

By this point, we’ve heard from plenty of readers and social media contacts who have been clawing at the walls after being locked down at home for weeks or months. That’s totally understandable. But now that you’ve got some practice in operating from isolation, perhaps you’d like to put those new skills to use and get paid for it to boot. NASA wants to do some long-term testing on human subjects to see how a group of them make out living together in a cramped environment for eight months. This will simulate some of the conditions astronauts are expected to endure during future missions to the moon and to Mars. (VOA News)

NASA is seeking candidates to go into isolation for eight months in an experiment to help prepare for long-term stays on the moon and Mars.

Researchers say results of the study will help them better understand the physical and mental effects on humans spending extended periods in space.

The experiment is part of NASA’s Human Research Program. The program seeks to discover and develop “the best methods and technologies to support safe, productive human space travel.”

Until now, American astronauts have only spent long space stays on the International Space Station – ISS. Most of these missions lasted several months, with the longest reaching nearly a year.

Before you get too excited, you don’t actually get to go to Mars or the moon when this is over. The job is to be a guinea pig so they can study what happens to you both physically and mentally over an extended period of time. This will allegedly help them screen candidates for long-haul space missions. Of course, it’s not an exact simulation. You won’t be bombarded by radiation 24/7 like you would be in space and you won’t suffer from bone density degradation from a zero-G environment.

There are a few requirements to be aware of before you apply. You’ll need to be between the ages of 30 and 55. You’ll also need to fluently speak both English and Russian. You’ll need either a college degree or military experience as well. Oh, and you’ll have to be able to pass a physical and a psychological exam.

This sounds very similar to another simulation conducted in 2016 in Hawaii. Three men and three women lived in isolation in an enclosure for an entire year doing various tests and tasks every day. There was a wonderful podcast made about their experiences called The Habitat which I listened to a couple of years ago. Things didn’t really go as well as expected. Two of the subjects started a romantic (physical) relationship before very long, splitting off from everyone else. One person became pretty much hated by the rest of the group. Some of them went into periods of depression and they started failing to complete all of their tasks and file the required reports. NASA learned a lot from that experiment, but it wasn’t easy on the subjects.

So… still interested? Even if I met the qualifications I couldn’t see myself applying. Eight months cooped up with five complete strangers sounds like a very personalized version of hell, to me. But for you younger folks who may be harboring dreams of spaceflight someday, maybe it’s not so crazy after all.