How we people cope with the isolation of a Mars mission?

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Should we ever want to visit our astronomical neighbours, we will first need to get over a lot of technological, physiological and psychological challenges.  To find out how a long mission isolated from Earth would affect astronauts, Mars 500 invited a number of volunteers to simulate the experience from a specially designed facility in Russia.  Peter Graef, from the German Space Agency, explains why…
Read a transcript of the interview by clicking here
or [chapter podcast=3389 track=11.07.24/Naked_Scientists_Show_11.07.24_8737.mp3] Listen to it now[/chapter] or [download as MP3]
« Last Edit: 26/07/2011 22:01:03 by _system »


Offline Airthumbs

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How we people cope with the isolation of a Mars mission?
« Reply #1 on: 26/07/2011 22:54:05 »
Having listened to this podcast I could not help thinking that the conditions the volunteers were subjected too are a lot better then some prisons.

In America for example if your a Supermax inmate you are locked inside your cell for 23hrs per day and not allowed to interact with any other inmates. Your food as a Supermax will be served through a small hole in your door. A lot of these people are locked up for life which is considerably less time then it takes to reach Mars and back!

It might be interesting to use the huge amount of research undertaken for the psychological effects of living in this environment and see how it compares to the Mars simulation.

One argument against this would be that the prisoners are not the kind of people you would want to send off to Mars on a mission on behalf of mankind and therefore do not give a good base for comparison.  Of course they are human and would most likely respond to environmental stimuli or the lack of it the same as the rest of us.

I really think it is important to simulate a trip to Mars from the technical aspects during the flight, but I do not see how it can be considered new research given mankind has been locking people up for centuries.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (Einstein)


Offline Don_1

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How we people cope with the isolation of a Mars mission?
« Reply #2 on: 27/07/2011 07:38:52 »
I'm not sure the psychological effects on a prisoner in enforced solitary confinement and an astronaut in voluntary confinement would be compareable. The psychological mindset of the two are very far apart.
If brains were made of dynamite, I wouldn't have enough to blow my nose.


Offline CliffordK

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How we people cope with the isolation of a Mars mission?
« Reply #3 on: 27/07/2011 08:34:40 »
Haven't the Russians done the same experiment on the Mir?

I'm not sure a pretend trip to Mars would be the same as a real trip to Mars. 

On a real trip to Mars, there is a goal (arriving safely on a new planet).  Plans for activities once there.  And, important things like monitoring course, checking seals.  Making sure airlocks are working, and etc.  And, of course, depending on whether they use artificial gravity, there would be rigorous physical training. 

Would everything be with MRE's?  Or would there be a mini-greenhouse?

One would want the spaceship to be fully operational (aside from emergencies).  But, perhaps there could be tasks that would be assigned.  For example, coursework in mission important fields such as medical fields, engineering, electronics, etc.  Cross-training of everyone on board.

It might also be best to foster a social environment.  Husband/wife couples, etc.  It would be a lot of time together, but perhaps better than a lot of time apart.

Could you get the internet?
The delay would be a bit frustrating.  20 light-minutes to Mars.  With good buffers, one could deal with that, and it might help one pass some time.  A few light hours to Jupiter would be more frustrating.

The return trip?
I would consider joining a colonial mission.  It would be an extraordinary opportunity.  But, one would certainly need a lot of support for the first few years.