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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: 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.

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  • (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.