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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @01:16AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05 2014, @01:16AM (#26481)

    may be floated up only after several months

    What if one of the participants has a severe injury or discovers a completely treatable condition before your arbitrary cutoff like the physician at the Antarctic outpost? []

    How about postponing any melodrama and only going to ridiculous extremes when it can't possibly be avoided?

    -- gewg_

  • (Score: 1) by tftp on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:39AM

    by tftp (806) on Saturday April 05 2014, @06:39AM (#26564) Homepage

    How about postponing any melodrama and only going to ridiculous extremes when it can't possibly be avoided?

    That's what they are doing right now. And it will be not very usable. Might just as well skip the whole thing. If a few people are afraid to sit for a few months in true isolation, they are not good candidates for a trip that will take a couple of years as a minimum. This stuff is dangerous. Perhaps spaceflight should be outlawed "for health and safety," as they say in UK. It's clearly not as safe as sleeping in bed on Earth.