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posted by Dopefish on Friday April 04 2014, @06:28PM   Printer-friendly
from the at-least-women-will-live-on-venus dept.

When astronauts first began flying in space, NASA worried about "space madness," a mental malady they thought might arise from humans experiencing microgravity and claustrophobic isolation inside of a cramped spacecraft high above the Earth. Now Megan Garber writes in The Atlantic that NASA is hoping to find out what life on Mars does to the human emotional state by putting three men and three women in a 1,000-square-foot habitat shaped like a dome for four months. The volunteers in the second HI-SEAS mission a purposely tiny group selected out of a group of 700 applicants include, among others, a neuropsychologist, an aerospace engineer, and an Air Force veteran who is studying human factors in aviation. "We're going to stress them," says Kim Binsted, the project's principal investigator. "That's the nature of the study."

That test involves isolating the crew in the same way they'd be isolated on Mars. The only communication they'll be allowed with the outside world-that is to say, with their family and friends-will be conducted through email. (And that will be given an artificial delay of 20 minutes to simulate the lag involved in Mars-to-Earth communications.) If that doesn't seem too stressful, here's another source of stress: Each mission member will get only eight minutes of shower time ... per week. The stress will be compounded by the fact that the only time the crew will be able to leave their habitat-yurt is when they're wearing puffy, insulated uniforms that simulate space suits in the Hawaiian heat. Throughout the mission, researchers will be testing the subjects' moods and the changes they exhibit in their relationships with each other. They'll also be examining the crew members' cognitive skills, seeing whether-and how-they change as the experiment wears on. Binsted says the mission has gotten the attention of the TV world, but don't expect to see much inside-the-dome footage. "You wouldn't believe the number of producers who called us," says Binsted. "Fortunately, we're not ethically allowed to subject our crew to that kind of thing."

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by gishzida on Friday April 04 2014, @06:36PM

    by gishzida (2870) on Friday April 04 2014, @06:36PM (#26324) Journal

    They might also try to correlate this to solitary confinement in prison. Their intention to cause stress sounds much like what a normal everyday American prison life sounds like... especially solitary confinement. Yup. they'll go a bit crazy.

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frojack on Friday April 04 2014, @06:42PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 04 2014, @06:42PM (#26325) Journal

    In solitary, you got nothing to do.
    Chances are on Mars they will be busier than a one armed paper hanger, just like they are on the ISS, very busy doing not much of interest, just keeping the damn thing running.

    On mars there will be plenty of real science to do, new housing modules retrieve and attach periodically to the shelter as they arrive from earth, samples to collect, equipment to fix, etc.

    I don't think it will be the same as solitary at all.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by edIII on Friday April 04 2014, @09:41PM

      by edIII (791) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 04 2014, @09:41PM (#26412)

      Not nearly as rapey either.

      I think there is a big difference between somebody in prison who is border line mental trying to deal with their own demons and very real fear around them all the time and a scientist pushing the frontiers of science in the most dangerous way possible for the greater good of humanity.

      These two people are not the same, and we wouldn't spend that much money to send up prisoners or people with known mental issues.

      Whoever goes will be a person most likely to succeed and I bet there might be a minimum 90 day stress test before hand.

      I know that I would be capable of everything described except the 8 minute shower once per week. 4 people in a 1,000 square foot area can get pretty damn ripe. Some races, genders, and diets can also exacerbate that smell, or provide smells that others may not be used to. I've been flat out told to stay away from people I love after a night of too much garlic and curry. Not to be crude, but I've also known some women that can get super ripe on those days of the month.

      Unless they gave me 200 gallons of Febreeze, I would tell them kindly to screw off.

      On another note, who in their right mind would want to be locked up with a woman on her period in a confined space? Women often need some extra space during that time, a position I find very reasonable given what they go through.

      To be fair, I would be absolutely convinced that my smell and snoring would get me kicked out into the natural Martian environment.

      This almost sounds more like a crazy Nazi experiment than it does real science.

      Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
  • (Score: 2) by Sir Garlon on Friday April 04 2014, @06:45PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Friday April 04 2014, @06:45PM (#26327)

    Don't forget that the participants will be able to interact with each other. It would be more like a medium- or minimum-security prison than solitary confinement. Not even that, really, because presumably the study participants are selected to be *un*likely to rape and brutalize each other.

    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04 2014, @06:54PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04 2014, @06:54PM (#26329)

      I think the chance of staying sane will correlate strongly with increase in popuation size. Being stuck with the same 5 people for 2 years isn't good; being stuck with the same 50 people is better; 500 people, even more so.

      • (Score: 1) by Immerman on Friday April 04 2014, @07:12PM

        by Immerman (3985) Subscriber Badge on Friday April 04 2014, @07:12PM (#26333)

        500 people in a 1000 sq. foot dome? Give me solitary. 5 people would be bad enough.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @01:33AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @01:33AM (#26486)

          Makes me wonder what the minimum external dimensions would be for a holodeck.

          -- gewg_

          • (Score: 2) by chebucto on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:43PM

            by chebucto (36) on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:43PM (#26674) Journal

            They do address that in at least once; I can't remember which episode it was, but it involved a medical emergency that required Dr. Crusher to use the holodecks as emergency sickbays. At one point she comments that she is running out of room; although the holodecks appear to be of unlimited size, the number of people that can fit in a holodeck limited by the physical dimensions of the holodeck.

          • (Score: 1) by Immerman on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:59PM

            by Immerman (3985) Subscriber Badge on Saturday April 05 2014, @02:59PM (#26678)

            Well, if you assume complete sensory override and maximum naive packing every individual still needs to be suspended in a sphere of space around 6-7 feet in diameter to allow a full range of unrestricted motion without risking collision with adjacent individuals. External dimensions would be geometry dependent, but as a crude estimate we can call it 180 cubic feet per person, times 1000 people = 180,000 cubic feet total, or a sphere about ~70 feet in diameter. Not to shabby all things considered. Now if we only had a mountain of magical devices that could pull it off.

            It's a good idea though - perhaps we could get NASA interested in VR development as a way to maintain health and morale on long missions. Sure I may be trapped in a tin can with a handful of other people for years on end, but if I can use my stint on the exercise bike to spend an hour in a fairly immersive bicycle ride through the woods that would likely let me bleed off a lot of stress. I'd probably be a lot less likely to want to slack off on exercise as well.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by gishzida on Friday April 04 2014, @09:16PM

      by gishzida (2870) on Friday April 04 2014, @09:16PM (#26397) Journal

      I would say that is probably what this study will find out... just because their 'selection tests' are supposed to filter out the unstable the idea seems to be to see if this kind of isolation will cause psychological 'issues'. Imagine what it would be like to be stuck with someone(s) that have bad habits, have opposing political views, hate your philosophy of life but other wise is a nice normal person. How long befor you throttle them or throttle yourself?

      In regards to solitary confinement you get a shower a week and maybe some exercise for a short period of time... Solitary makes you nuttier [] and nastier. The effect of this kind of of experiment will possibly induce "flaws" which the selection tests did not catch.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Friday April 04 2014, @07:19PM

    by bucc5062 (699) on Friday April 04 2014, @07:19PM (#26336)

    In any of these studies I feel they remove one rather important factor out, these people are still on Earth and any study being done on Earth will not let them die, kill each other or go crazy. Right there you remove a key stressor with is a basic survival feeling. Halfway between Earth and Mars, or sitting on Mars will be a whole different feel then being on Earth. Lack of gravity vs Gravity, hostile atmosphere (or lack there of) vs friendly if the dome breaks and on and on.

    I cannot imagine what a constant feeling of stress is like, but I would figure being on Mars will be a whole different way of being then experimenting on Earth. Showers once a week, lag in communications...please. Knowing that if you fuck up once, you may die and living that for over a year? That is stress.

    Screw this Earth Bio-dome crap, just ask for volunteers and send em up. Can't find any, whack em over the head with a belaying pin and put em on board. My goodness have we become that wussified as a species in the past couple of hundred years? /half kidding

    The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by mhajicek on Friday April 04 2014, @09:40PM

      by mhajicek (51) on Friday April 04 2014, @09:40PM (#26411)

      Study submarine crews.

      The spacelike surfaces of time foliations can have a cusp at the surface of discontinuity. - P. Hajicek
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bucc5062 on Friday April 04 2014, @11:26PM

        by bucc5062 (699) on Friday April 04 2014, @11:26PM (#26450)

        With respect there are some differences:

        1 - The relatively short time frame underwater (6 months is not years)
        2 - Larger population allows for more diversity in contact and communication
        3 - Military structure and disipline vs a more civilian science/proto-military community
        4 - Being on Earth.

        I don't think we can fathom (these days) what it means to be in close proximity to our home planet. Ars Technica had an article on how a shuttle crew could be saved if tiles were too damaged. Subs have escape pods and hatches to provide the semblance of safety and the almost unconscious tholught that rescue is possible.

        When people go to Mars, there will be no rescue, no escape pod when the shit hit the fan. Subs come close, but nothing well ever tell us how we do until we just do it. Kind of like the first explorers that crossed the Atlantic (or Pacific). How many did not ever make it back? How much did that matter compared to the riches in discovering new places. As a species, we have grow soft. On a planet where we have 7 billion people we feel life is so precious we don't even allow people to try, compared to a time when live was precious, and we went anyway.

        We have crawled back to the caves, we have climbed back into the trees.

        The more things change, the more they look the same
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by rts008 on Friday April 04 2014, @09:42PM

      by rts008 (3001) on Friday April 04 2014, @09:42PM (#26413)

      ...whack em over the head with a belaying pin and put em on board.

      I wonder how many people even know what a belaying pin is nowadays?

      My goodness have we become that wussified as a species in the past couple of hundred years? /half kidding

      I would say yes from my observations of events here(USA) since '9/11'.

      The closest we have came to facing hardship and threats to our survival(real or imagined) since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, was the Cold War, until '9/11.
      We became complacent and soft not having to face much physical adversity that threatens our survival as a society/nation. Modern life has become much safer and easier overall, and we get 'out of shape' and 'out of practice' not having to fight so hard to survive. It happens everywhere, and seems to be a natural trait(or at least common) of our species.

      Similar to an athlete, if you just sit back and relax, you get 'out of shape' and 'out of practice'.

      And that just reinforces your point about the study being safe will affect the behavior of the participants.
      There is no 'real threat' to their survival, and that will make a huge difference.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @12:54AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @12:54AM (#26479)

        belaying pin
        You, sir, are a sociopath.

        (Score:3, Insightful)
        Apparently, there are others of your aberrant ilk.

        I would say yes
        Your lack of empathy for your fellow human has me wondering about you as well.
        My reaction to the GP was significantly different.
        The Universal Declaration of Human Rights []
        Welcome to the 21st Century. Make an effort to fit in.

        -- gewg_

        • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Sunday April 06 2014, @12:46PM

          by bucc5062 (699) on Sunday April 06 2014, @12:46PM (#27045)

          Actually, I am not. I do read and have an imagination and use it from time to time.

          If you remember your history, sailing ships were, at times, manned in such a manner. It was not right, but it happened. I was injecting humor figuring people would understand that using a belaying pin is not the proper approach. These days I figure a corporation my just take all your money and give you a choice of lifetime poverty, death, or travel into space as an "Explorer".

          As Gishzida pointed out, we need to have a frontier and like any/all frontiers, it is not a safe place to be, but one that certain kind of people may want to experience. We need to explore or we will implode. If you ever read any of my other posts or ever bothered to ask you'd find I am very empathic to my fellow humans. I am saddened by the true sociopaths that are tearing down civilization either through violence, economics, or education. To comment on your post, they truly violate the Declaration of human rights whilst I was merely joking about a very old reference to forced travel.

          Right now, today if volunteers/workers/thrill seekers were asked to go and explore Mars, the solar system, to build refineries and ways to mine resources the line would stretch around the world. We don't need the elite doing things, we need people doing things. SO stop being so knee jerk in a response and try to read in the context of the voice and topic. Its less stressful and less mean that way.

          And I am doing okay, since you were wondering. A little stressed over some life decisions, want to buy a farm? Thanks for the invite, but I've been here a while.

          The more things change, the more they look the same
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @07:54AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09 2014, @07:54AM (#28648)

            sailing ships were, at times
            Sailing ships haven't been a thing for over 150 years.
            In that time frame, it was also acceptable to own slaves and to beat them to death.
            It's time to move ahead.

            I was injecting humor figuring people would understand
            There's this thing... []
            It's been around since 1982.

            -- gewg_

            • (Score: 2) by bucc5062 on Wednesday April 09 2014, @10:16AM

              by bucc5062 (699) on Wednesday April 09 2014, @10:16AM (#28687)

              Oh come on, I looked back and even in my first post I mentioned I was kidding. If I had put a smiley face after that you'd think I was crazy and a sociopath so really, no matter what I did, I lose.

              You seem to take everything so literal. That has to be exhausting or an emotional roller coaster. I am starting to think you are a some bot or ALICE type of program. Lack of humor, literal understanding, short responses; it starts to make sense. You also post as AC so to remain hidden.


              The more things change, the more they look the same
              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @06:54PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11 2014, @06:54PM (#30207)

                You seem to take everything so literal
                Literally (It's an adverb.)
                Yes, the written word is something that I take seriously.

                You also post as AC
                Remaining AC reflects my disnterest in karma.
                You also couldn't say that with any certainty...

                so to remain hidden
                ...if I didn't SIGN each and every post that I make.

                -- gewg_

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by gishzida on Saturday April 05 2014, @12:04PM

      by gishzida (2870) on Saturday April 05 2014, @12:04PM (#26638) Journal

      I think you may be correct... We can't have a real "wagon train to the stars"-- After all *that* does not have all of the pork barrel and kickbacks of a "federally funded study". I fully expect something like "(in)voluntary" colonization of the moon will be something the PRC will consider in 30 to 50 years... that is if they don't implode first and take a lot of us with them.

      The truth is we NEED frontiers and have needed frontiers for over fifty years... What do we get instead? Wars and Circuses. We need some place where we can send the rift-raft, the bad men, *and* the risk takers... so they are kept so busy staying alive they have no time to harm, hinder, or victimize those left behind. It's how the American west was "opened" [after of course stealing the land].

      OTOH I can see that some of the other posters in this thread seem to be enamored with the idea that colonizing Mars or other real estate should be reserved for the "elite" pre-selection process sponsored by Governments everywhere. These posters seem to believe that this is about "science" and not species survival. There is no point in a man or woman going to Mars to "do Science". It can be done quite well by robot probes and landers and be a lot cheaper in the terms of money expended.

      The only reason to go to Mars or the Moon is to get us off Earth and out from under the weight of our own civilization... to get us more real estate so we have a longer term chance of survival as a species. If we go there with no intention of staying then there is no point in going in the first place. Where are all the Libertarian types who usually are calling foul at government interference?

      The old west was opened not by "pre-selection" of Government sponsored colonist or "scientists" but by "self selection" of people that wanted to be be free or to "get somewhere" economically by "going somewhere".

      Most of Australia was opened by convicts that had been transported for criminal offenses-- their national anthem is about a sheep thief!

      If you want a no risk way to colonize the solar system then send the convicts, politically undesirable, the volunteers, or the involuntary volunteers on a one way. Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress speaks to the "reality of what it might be like.

      OTOH the way the US Government is going about this we will never colonize the Moon or Mars... PRC, India, the EU or Brazil will get there first. I don't include Russia in the list because they, like the USA, have a political elite that is only interested in lining its own pockets.

      Oh, then there are those who will ask "What right have we to mess up another planet?" and the only conclusion I can draw from those folks is they are more concerned with the ecology of a dead rock in the sky than the future of their children's children many times removed.

      Humanity needs frontiers.