Training in Simulations: US Makes for Mission to Mars

PHOTO DATE: June 26, 2023. LOCATION:Bldg. 220 - CHAPEA Facility. SUBJECT: Crew Ingress Event for Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog (CHAPEA). PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel

Space travel and the journey to explore the unknown have always attracted the interest of many: scientists, engineers, and doctors alike. While scientists are taking cautious steps to gain a deeper, more comprehensive understanding of the vastness of outer space and everything it can offer, many variables still cause scientists to be apprehensive about sending astronauts to other planets. To combat this, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, also known as NASA, created a year-long Mars simulation to give astronauts and aspiring explorers a glimpse into life on Mars. 

On June 25, four crew members began their yearlong journey in a 3-D printed environment replicating that of Mars with only each other to keep them company. Through a program called Chapea, which stands for Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog, biomedical engineer Kelly Haston, structural engineer Ross Brockwell, medical officer Nathan Jones, and nurse Alyssa Shannon experience what it’s like to be on Mars. These volunteers will live in a cramped room, unable to contact other people, while dealing with the mental health issues and loneliness associated with the role. Every part of this simulation is designed to replicate the real-life conditions of outer space: not just the external environment but also the intrinsic emotions. These findings will help scientists better prepare for the Mars expedition and various things they can do to improve the experience for the people aboard the rocket ship.

NASA is planning on using this strong team of crew members to send the first woman and the first person of color to the Moon while preparing to send a group of people to Mars. 

On a similar note, 19-year-old Alyssa Carson is training to be the youngest person in space and one of the first to land on Mars. She graduated from the Advanced Space Academy at 16 years old and received her certification in applied astronautics, allowing her to do flight research with esteemed astronauts. Carson is currently training with Project PoSSUM, for which she wears space suits, spends time in simulated capsules, and conducts research surrounding gravity.

Her goal is to be the first person on Mars, which she hopes to attain by completing college, gaining a Master’s degree, and gaining work experience in the space industry. Carson exclaimed, “It’s kind of lucky that what I was dreaming of as a kid is now an actual possibility!” She hopes to be an inspiration for girls and women in STEM and aerospace engineering, which has proven to be a male-dominated field, and hopes to make significant differences in research and the understanding of space. 

Overall, the experience of going to space is much more than an enjoyable experience for these people. A once-in-a-lifetime experience, space, and Mars exploration can be used for the future of technology, planetary life, and scientific understanding. Further exploring Mars can pave the way for understanding extraterrestrial life on other planets and if they can maintain human life. As the Earth continues to be affected by factors like global warming, pollution, and rising sea levels, innovators recognize the importance of developing a backup plan, and that’s precisely what this is: a mode to learn more about planets in our solar system and use that information to increase the longevity and success of humankind.

Works Cited

Rubio, Jeffery. “NASA Selects Participants for One-Year Mars Analog Mission.” NASA, NASA, 17 Apr. 2023,

Skibba, Ramin. “NASA’s Yearlong Mars Simulation Is a Test of Mental Mettle.” Wired, 2 June 2023,

Soluade, Stacey. “Meet the Teenage Astronaut in Training on a Mission to Mars.” The Female Lead, 30 Mar. 2021,