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Dream job? Live in a capsule in Hawaii eating astronaut food.

Has it always been your dream to live like an astronaut without actually going into space? Now is your chance. Scientists at Cornell and the University of Hawaii are looking for participants for a study on nutrition in space.

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Crew members onboard the International Space Station share a meal in the Unity node of the orbiting laboratory in this NASA handout photo taken in 2009.

NASA/Reuters/Handout

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If you’ve always dreamed of being an astronaut here’s the next best thing, and the location couldn’t be more idyllic. Scientists from Cornell and the University of Hawaii are conducting a 120-day Mars exploration analog study in a simulated Mars habitat on the lava fields of the Big Island of Hawai’i. The study will focus on the diets of six volunteers, who will be required to live and work like astronauts, including suiting up in space gear whenever they head outside of their habitat. But the emphasis will be for participants compare two types of foods: crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared, in order to avoid what has been termed “menu fatigue” over a long-duration mission. Applications are currently being taken for the job.
 
Jean Hunter, associate professor of biological and environmental engineering at Cornell and several colleagues have received a $947,000 NASA grant for the study, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analogue & Simulation, or HI-SEAS. Hunter said current astronauts on the International Space Station not only tire of eating foods they normally enjoy but also tend to eat less, which can put them at risk for nutritional deficiency, loss of bone and muscle mass, and reduced physical capabilities. Plus, all foods decline in nutritional quality over time, and only a few of the many available astronaut foods have the three-to-five-year shelf life required for a Mars mission.

So, the participants will also help determine how being on a landed mission on Mars would make different ways of cooking — and perhaps gardening — possible, which would give the astronauts more food variety and relieve menu fatigue.

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