If you thought your postdoc was long and lonely, try spending 500 days in a hermetically sealed laboratory in Moscow or 13 months on an over-winter crew in Antarctica.
The European Space Agency issued a call this week for applications for 6 candidates and 6 alternates for the Mars500 program, which will simulate a mission to Mars, complete with 250-day journey, 30-day planetary exploration, and 240-day return. Candidates have to be 25 to 50 years old, in good health, highly motivated, have a background in science or engineering, and be fluent in either Russian or English with a working knowledge of the other. The psychologically disturbed need not apply.
The agency is also looking for one person with a medical background to spend 13 months at Concordia Station, high on the Antarctic Ice Cap, including a brutal winter with temperatures approaching -60 degrees C. The ESA has partnered with the French Polar Institute and other groups because the autonomy and confinement of Antarctic missions mirrors that of future space exploration missions. In addition to the usual chores of isolated lab life, the successful candidate for this job will administer medical and psychological tests to the crew throughout the expedition.
– Kate Travis