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A Year on Mars with Sheyna Gifford

A HI-SEAS crew emerges from the habitat


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0205 - A Year on Mars - Transcript
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What do you need to make the cut to be an astronaut bound for Mars? The process to be chosen for a mission - whether on Earth or in space - is very intense. A lot of people want to go to Mars!

Here's Mars One's "Five Key Characteristics of An Astronaut." Do you fit the bill?

Mars One's chart for their "Five Key Characteristics of An Astronaut."

Applications for Mars One closed in 2013. But HI-SEAS missions are ongoing!

As a medical doctor, Sheyna was a strong candidate for the job. Here's how she describes the application process:

When you apply for these missions it's just like applying to be an astronaut. It starts with an online application. You have to have a high level science degree. They interview you, and you go for a physical examination. Then, with the small pool of people who make it, you go on a trip through the mountains. On the trip, you all sit down and talk about who would make the best group.

That's right. Aspiring astronauts have to take a hiking trip together, before they even get to training. Why is that? Sheyna explains:

One thing is to make sure that you don't drive each other crazy. You want to be able to work together. Another thing is that you have to have physical endurance to be able to walk around a heavy spacesuit. So this is like practice walking around in a heavy spacesuit, at high altitude. So the trip through the mountains was very much like the altitude we were going to be at simulated Mars.

A hiking trip is a great way to see how a group works together. The mission organizers try to identify each potential crew member's "leadership style." Sheyna says it helped prepare for a year on Mars. Would you sign up for a Mars simulation or a real trip to Mars?

We had to cook together and clean together and do leadership exercises that they taught us. Then you get to face a little hardship together, have a few challenges together, and learn how each other work. That's why it's important. That's why I think most astronauts in the last 10-15 years have gone on these trips.

Would you sign up for a Mars simulation or a real trip to Mars? What would YOU pack? Draw a picture of your journey to Mars, and send it to us at!

For more educational resources - including a listening comprehension sheet, transcript, and resource list for this episode and others - join us at

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