NASA Wants You for a Space Isolation Study

This could be you! Follow in the footsteps of members of the original crew selected to participate in a four-month isolation study in 2019. (Photo: NASA [public domain])

While millions around the globe are looking forward to the days when they'll spend less time at home and more time out interacting with society, a smaller number have found pleasure in the quiet isolation of lockdown. To these contented introverts, NASA is offering a proposition: Are you interested in being sealed away inside a Russian lab for eight months?

The space agency is seeking U.S. citizens to volunteer for an international spaceflight simulation mission that will study the effects of isolation and confinement on human psychology, physiology, and team dynamics. The goal from these ground-based missions is to collect data that will help NASA prepare future astronauts for long duration explorations on both the moon and Mars.

"Social isolation is a very important area for us to research. It is associated with higher levels of stress and affects physiological and psychological well-being," Thomas Williams, a scientist for the Human Factors and Behavioral Performance Element, said after a successful four-month pilot program in 2019.

The previous SIRIUS mission crew emerging from their module after four months of isolation.
The previous SIRIUS mission crew emerging from their module after four months of isolation. (Photo: NASA [public domain])

Of course, NASA isn't expecting you to do this on your own. Joining you inside the simulation facility at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow will be an international crew of five other volunteers.

Based on the previous study, it's clear that those chosen will have plenty to do to help the time fly by.

"The SIRIUS-19 crew participated in numerous simulated mission operations tasks, from docking to a space station orbiting the Moon, to selecting lunar landing locations and conducting moonwalks on the lunar surface," a NASA release said. "In addition, the crew participated in more than 80 research experiments that included self-tests, questionnaires, specimen collection and journaling."

A collage of photos taken during the previous four-month isolation study.
A collage of photos taken during the previous four-month isolation study. (Photo: NASA [public domain])

While those who have exhausted their bucket list of episodic TV on Netflix, Amazon, and Disney+ might be willing to take on this challenge, it's worth noting that NASA has some high expectations for minimum requirements to apply. In addition to having proficiency in speaking both English and Russian, the agency is also seeking those with technical skills earned either in the military or through an advanced degree or other professional experience. Those chosen will be compensated, with rates dependent on whether you're already a NASA employee or a contractor.

Should you miss out on this round, you have time to prepare for the next mission: a 12-month-long simulation scheduled for 2022. Let's just hope that by then, a case study in isolation isn't a present reflection of our own COVID-19 routines.