It seems that NASA, the American space agency, is experiencing a uniquely active period. It is not comparable to the early days of space exploration, with the cold war as the main motivation, but ambitious projects related to taking human beings outside our planet to explore other places have resumed again. I’m not exactly a fan of Donald Trump, but I certainly give him credit for approving in 2017 the Artemis program, which holds so much promise for the near future.

The first major milestone planned for Artemis, and therefore for NASA, will occur barring delays in 2024, the year when man will finally return to the Moon. Let’s remember that the last time a man stepped on lunar soil was in 1971, so a large part of the current population has never experienced such a moment. And I think, for example, of my admired Martí, from the popular science channel CdeCiencia, and I feel an enormous joy that my generation can share with his generation something so historic.

However, and although when talking about Artemis most people think of just that, a new manned trip to the Moon, in reality we are talking about a much more ambitious program, with which NASA intends to resume the plans of the Apollo program that did not come to fruition. And it doesn’t just stop there, in fact this would only be the prelude to what is to come, and that is that the Moon is only one of its objectives, the next one is Mars.

Not many people know it, but with the most advanced phase of the Apollo program NASA was considering the establishment of infrastructures on the Moon, and even the possible creation of a lunar base. And what happened? Well, when the Apollo 11 mission reached our satellite, the United States was given as the winner of the space race against the Soviet Union, the program lost interest for citizens and politicians, NASA’s budgets began to fall sharply and finally, after the Apollo 17 mission in 1971, the program was officially cancelled.

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Artemis proposes to resume NASA’s plans to establish an inhabited lunar base, which in addition to being another huge milestone could also be a good test laboratory for its next big step, taking humans to Mars in 2033, in just 12 years. As you know this is not only NASA’s responsibility, actually for Artemis the agency has several public and private partners, such as the European Space Agency and SpaceX.

<img src=” 1200w,×300.jpg 500w,×378.jpg 630w,×461.jpg 768w,×600.jpg 1000w,×354.jpg 590w,×240.jpg 400w” alt=”NASA will experiment life on Mars… on Earth” width=”1200″ height=”720″ />

Some will think that 12 years is a long time, to others however it seems to us a very close term for such a complex project, there are many tests and necessary preparations, and a fundamental part of them is to study the effects of such a mission in the human being, something in which NASA has been working for a long time, and for which it uses all the possible means to make calculations and, something very important, simulations.

The latest news is that, according to Business Insider, the U.S. space agency is looking for volunteers (paid, of course) to spend a year in a habitat that will recreate part of the Martian conditions. This camp will be set up in the desert in Texas and, for the production of its components, NASA will resort to 3D printing.

Obviously there are quite a few differences between Texas and Mars, the main one being the difference in gravity, which on Mars is only 3.72 metres per second2 compared to Earth, which is 9.8 metres per second2. However, it will allow NASA to assess the physiological and psychological response to activities, isolation conditions and the ability to respond to unforeseen incidents. In the absence of the establishment of a base for testing on the Moon, these tests can provide a good deal of knowledge about what can happen and what to expect.

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There are several conditions, however, to be eligible for this test program. NASA is looking for candidates with a master’s degree in engineering, mathematics or computer science and at least two years of experience as a pilot. In addition, they must be between 30 and 35 years old, in good physical health, not prone to motion sickness and, as if that weren’t enough, only U.S. citizens or foreigners with permanent residency will be able to apply.