Space Mission to Mars! Volunteers Wanted!

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Disclaimer: Volunteers will not actually participate in a space mission to Mars. Instead they will be confined for 17 months in “a series of interlocked modules in an research institute in Moscow.” The point being to study the psychological stresses that would result from an actual mission to Mars.

The European Space Agency is looking for 12 (European) volunteers in all, of whom 6 would participate in the 17-month study, to begin late next year or early 2009. The article says the facility is 19,250 cubic feet in size, which sounds pretty small — cozy, anyway — for 6 people. Salary: 120 euros a day, or — envelope calculations here — around $40,000 a year. Not much. Though it does include “room” and board. And my lease is up in September…

They’re being pretty hardcore about it. You have to eat space-type food, go through simulated emergencies, and endure a 40-minute radio delay when communicating with loved ones. Dang. I know they’re testing for psychological resilience, but you have to think anybody who would put themselves through this wouldn’t be super-ultra-sane to begin with.

There’s much more detailed information on the actual application, downloadable here, which astutely excludes people who are already in prison from applying (nice try, convicts!) And I love how they decorated the application with artist’s impressions of a dude walking on Mars. We can’t stress this enough, people: if you volunteer for this you will not actually be going to Mars.

Or will you…