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NASA crew survives living in Mars simulation for six months

NASA crew survives living in Mars simulation for six months

Everything in the simulation mimics life on Mars - the crew even has to wear spacesuits outside.

You'd certainly have a lot of bragging rights if you were the first person to survive living on Mars for six months.

Well, four people can already claim that crown... sort of.

ICYMI, two men and two women have been living on 'Mars' - or at least a simulated expedition that's actually here on Earth.

The simulation is meant to feel exactly like living on Mars.
MARK FELIX / Contributor / Getty

The experiment is set to last for 378 days, and it recently hit the halfway mark.

The four-person volunteer crew entered the CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space center in Houston on June 25, and it would seem like they're settling into life there.

It's all in a bid to prepare for an eventual trip to the actual Mars - NASA is gathering valuable data on how to 'best support crew health and performance while living on Mars', the agency says.

So what are the crew - made up of biologist Kelly Haston, engineer Ross Brockwell, medical officer Nathan Jones and science officer Anca Selariu - doing in the simulation?

According to NASA, they're carrying out 'different types of mission activities, including simulated spacewalks, robotic operations, habitat maintenance, personal hygiene, exercise, and crop growth'.

Everything is as realistic as possible - when they leave their quarters, they have to wear spacesuits to protect themselves from the 'Martian' environment.

The experiment will prepare us for actually going to Mars - and how we'll survive there.

It sounds pretty great, but it's not all fun and games in the CHAPEA habitat. The crew also face 'Mars-realistic' problems, such as resource limitations and equipment failure.

This was seen when a crucial piece of equipment was lost. "I may have accidentally murdered one of our robots," Jones told Mashable, joking that the incident was a "traumatic death" - although Brockwell seems convinced they'd be able to fix it with duct tape.

Plus, there's the fact it's so difficult to talk to their loved ones at home. To properly emulate being in Mars, there's a delay of up to 22-minutes one-way when talking to people back on 'Earth'. That means it could take nearly three-quarters of an hour for the crew to send a message to the outside world and receive an answer - hardly a snappy conversation.

Six months in, how is the crew finding it?

"My fun fact is that I actually apparently really love being on Mars," Haston told Mashable - even if she said she misses potato chips and red wine.

If hiding from the rest of the world and pretending like you're on Mars sounds like your bag, this is actually the first of a string of missions. If you're a US citizen who fits the criteria, you can apply to sign up to the next round here.

Featured Image Credit: Derek Berwin / Getty / NASA