‘Space Doctor’ Sounds Like the Coolest Job Ever — and People Are Already Training for It in Utah

Mars Society Desert Research Station
Photo: Getty Images

When we inevitably all uproot from Earth and move to space, we are going to need doctors. And even though we’re years away from needing to leave the planet, there are already training programs preparing people to practice medicine in space.

Deep in the Utah desert, the Martian Medical Analogue and Research Simulation is teaching medical professionals and aerospace engineers how to be doctors in space.

The course takes place at the Mars Desert Research Station, located about seven miles outside of the town of Hanksville, Utah. The station is a two-story giant while cylinder in the middle of the desert, sometimes referred to as “The Hab.”

The research station is a sort of immersive experience, meant to mimic the conditions of living on Mars. Those who visit are seeking the extreme conditions they would face in space: high temperatures, an unforgiving landscape and high-stakes scenarios.

Mars Society Desert Research Station
Getty Images

We are, of course, many years away from this sci-fi future, but that’s not stopping people from preparing for their move to the red planet. Even if humans don’t reach Mars in this lifetime, some participants believe that the work they are doing now will help pave the road for future space explorers.

Current space missions send already extremely-healthy people out of the Earth’s atmosphere for short spans of time. But as we voyage deeper into space, the likelihood of needing medical attention grows. In the pseudo-Mars simulations, preselected participants would tear their space suits, fall and “break” limbs and wander off. The point of the exercises is to learn how to deal with these emergency situations when there are no emergency services within lightyears.

On Earth, “You’re trained to continue CPR until definitive care arrives,” participant Arika Armstrong told Wired. “The difference on Mars is you are the definitive care. Earth isn’t coming to help you.”

Most people visit the research station for two to three weeks. But the field season runs eight months out of the year and is open for “professional scientists and engineers as well as college students of all levels, in training for human operations specifically on Mars,” according to the website.

Those interested in “living on Mars” can apply to be team members of the 2019-20 Field Season, starting this fall.

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