NASA selects crew for 45-day simulated trip to Martian moon

The new crew of NASA’s upcoming Human Exploration Research Analog, or HERA, mission stand in front of the habitat that will be their home for 45 days. From left to right: Lauren Cornell, Monique Garcia, Christopher Roberts and Madelyne Willis. Credit: NASA

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dive into space, until ">March? Thanks to a simulated journey, four volunteer research subjects will soon have the chance to discover it.

As of October 1, 2021, four people will live and work for 45 days in a unique habitat on the ground at ">NasaJohnson Space Center in Houston. Designed to serve as an analog for isolation, containment, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios, this small habitat is called the Human Exploration Research Analog, or HERA.

HERA will house crew members who will simulate the long journey to the moon of Mars Phobos. As with other HERA missions, once the habitat doors are closed, the crew will be required to stay inside for 45 days until the mission ends on November 15.

As the simulated journey brings the crew of Phobos closer together, those inside will experience increasing delays in communicating with the outside world. When the simulation brings the crew to Phobos successfully, this delay will last up to five minutes each way. Such delays will force the crew – and those coordinating their trip – to practice communicating in a way that minimizes impacts on mission operations and allows the crew sufficient autonomy to accomplish the mission.

The upcoming mission marks the start of HERA Campaign 6. Three additional missions will follow as part of the campaign, with the final release set for September 12, 2022.

NASA’s human research program will perform 15 studies in total throughout the missions, with seven returns and eight new investigations. Data collected from these missions will continue to help prepare humans for Artemis exploration missions to the Moon, trips to the planned lunar gateway, and long-duration missions. missions to Mars.

Four of the candidates below will form the main team for the HERA 6 campaign, mission 1, with the other two as reinforcements. Learn more about each crew member:

Main crew

Lauren Cornell

Lauren Cornell

Dr Lauren Cornell is a graduate of Texas A&M University, University of Texas at San Antonio, and University of Texas at Austin. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Genetics and a Masters in Biomedical Engineering. His doctorate was in translational science, which involves transforming knowledge from research into public interventions.

As a research scientist, Cornell has studied the genetics of human evolution, investigated the use of carbon nanotubes for guided neuronal growth, and used magnetic nanoparticles to regenerate eye tissue resulting from battlefield injuries. She conducted this latest research at the Sensory Trauma Department of the US Army Institute of Surgical Research.

Cornell is also the co-founder of NovoThelium, a company focused on improving women’s health care, with a particular focus on modernizing post-mastectomy nipple reconstruction. She was a member of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of the Food and Drug Administration and advocated with the United States Congress for increased scientific funding for the National Institutes of Health, while mentoring scientists and early career entrepreneurs.

Currently, Cornell is a Research Fellow for the U.S. Air Force, San Antonio, Texas, contributing to the military branch’s mission of researching, developing and evaluating innovative technologies that impact the advancement of precision, regenerative medicine. and diagnostics to improve clinical outcomes for troops.


Monique Garcia

Monique Garcia

Monique Garcia works as a human factors engineer and systems administrator for The MITER Corporation, responsible for developing a user interface for a telescope system that will be used in NASA’s Deep Space Network. She also participates in the development of task automation systems on US Space Force satellites.

Garcia has accumulated over 12 years of military service in the Air National Guard. During her service, she primarily provided support to overseas operations using remotely piloted aircraft, or RPAs, as well as domestic RPA operations for wildfire support and disaster recovery.

Garcia received his Master of Science in Kinesiology from California Baptist University and is currently working on a Master of Science in Human Factors Engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She holds qualifications as a certified personal trainer, with specializations in cognitive and behavioral techniques for health and performance. It aims to contribute and develop significant and long-term research on human spaceflight focusing on human factors and the behavioral performance of mission crews. She lives in Colorado with her husband Trevor, their son Jameson and their dog Ted. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, weight lifting and strength training, spending time in nature and meditating.


Christophe roberts

Christophe roberts

Chris Roberts is originally from Houston, Texas, and works as a Project Engineer with NASA’s Cold Stowage Team in support of the International Space Station program. In this role, he is responsible for end-to-end integration and in-orbit operations for a fleet of materiel both on the space station and on tour vehicle missions.

Roberts and his team are the 2021 recipients of the NASA Spaceflight Awareness Award, an honor bestowed on employees for their dedication and contributions to flight safety and mission success. Previously, he was the cargo operations flight controller for the space shuttle and for assembly missions to the space station.

Born in Minnesota, Roberts attended Saint John’s University in Collegeville, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics. He then attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he earned a master’s degree in engineering physics and focused his research on laser-induced fracture spectroscopy. In his spare time Roberts is an avid cyclist and enjoys hiking, camping, woodworking, and restoring vintage motorcycles.


Madelyne Willis

Madelyne Willis

Madelyne Willis is a microbial ecologist from Atlanta, Georgia. She has extensive field experience, including multiple deployments in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Willis is working on his doctorate in Ecology and Environmental Sciences at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. His main research interests are in polar ecology, understanding how microorganisms survive in frozen environments, and how microbial activity can alter the geochemistry of glacial ice.

Willis is also actively involved in projects to develop new spectroscopy instruments for the exploration of the Earth and the planets.


Backup crew

Justin laurent

Justin laurent

Justin Lawrence is a Doctor of Planetary Sciences. candidate and member of the Future Investigator program of NASA’s Earth and Space Science and Technology Program, also known as FINESST. He obtained his doctorate from the Planetary Habitability and Technology Lab at Georgia Tech.

Lawrence’s research interests overlap in the areas of astrobiology, analog fieldwork, climatology, and robotics. Currently, he works primarily with the Icefin underwater vehicle, fusing robotic exploration and microbiology to study habitability and ocean-ice interactions beneath Antarctic ice shelves. His work aims to help develop technologies that will facilitate future robotic exploration of other ocean worlds, such as Jupiterthe moon Europe.

Since 2012, Lawrence has spent over a year and a half conducting research in Antarctica. He has also sailed 6,500 nautical miles around the world on board research vessels of the Sea Education Association. When not in the field, Lawrence enjoys biking, sailing, photography, gardening and scuba diving.


Pu Wang

Pu Wang

Dr Pu Wang is the head of the engineering team at The Boeing Company. At Boeing, he received special accolades for his leadership and in-depth knowledge, including being named Boeing Associate Technical Fellow and Designated Expert.

Wang has worked in the aviation and aerospace industry in more than 10 commercial and military programs. Wang specializes in several disciplines, such as structural analysis, fatigue and fracture mechanics, aircraft design, propulsion, plasma physics and electromagnetic fields.

Prior to joining Boeing, Wang worked for General Electric and United Technologies to develop aircraft engines. His first adventure in space programs involved research into 3D immersed finite element methods and particle simulations in cells of plasma-lunar surface interactions. Wang received a doctorate in aerospace engineering from Virginia Tech. He also obtained a master’s degree in solid mechanics and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.


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