Prepare astronauts for deep space spiritual and emotional challenges

However, the floating freedom provided by the lack of gravity presents many limitations with respect to the human body and mind.

A short trip to space from the early Mercury and Apollo missions resulted in a stay of more than six months on the International Space Station. Floating laboratories have served as an ideal background for scientists seeking to understand what is really happening to every aspect of the human body in the space environment, including radiation, lack of gravity, and more.

Many of these effects, especially in the 2019 twin study, compare the changes Scott Kelly experienced after spending nearly a year in space with the changes in Mark, the twin brother who remained on Earth. , Well documented.

Christopher Mason of Weill Cornell Medicine partnered with NASA for this study, and he and Scott Kelly talked about these findings at the 2022 Life Itself conference, a health and wellness event announced in partnership with CNN.

“What did you miss most about Earth when you were away for a year?” Mason asked Kelly.

“Of course the weather. Rain, sun, wind,” Kelly said. “And I miss you, the people you know, your family, and the people who are important to your friends.”

NASA plans to return humanity to the Moon through the Artemis program and eventually land on Mars, so to understand the implications of long-term travel in deep space. Interest is growing.

The big question asked by some scientists is whether humans are mentally and emotionally prepared for such a big leap. In short: how do we handle it?

Reveal the study

In a 2021 study, participants lived in simulated weightlessness for nearly two months by resting in a special bed with their heads tilted down at a 6-degree angle. Tilt creates a forward shift in fluid that astronauts experience in the absence of gravity.

Participants were regularly asked to complete cognitive tests designed for astronauts in relation to memory, risk-taking, emotion recognition, and spatial orientation.

Researchers wanted to test whether artificial gravity could be prevented from adverse effects by experiencing artificial gravity for 30 minutes a day, at a time or for 5 minutes of seizures. Study participants experienced the first cognitive decline in their test, which became uniform and did not last for 60 days.

However, the speed at which they perceive emotions has deteriorated overall. During the test, they tended to consider facial expressions angry rather than happy or neutral.

“Long-range astronauts, very similar to our research participants, are in a small space with few other astronauts,” said Matthias Basner, a research author at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman. You will be trapped and spend a lot of time in microgravity. ” School of medicine.

This is how the human heart adapts to the universe

“The ability of astronauts to correctly” read “each other’s emotional expressions is paramount to effective teamwork and successful missions. Our findings suggest that the ability to do this can be compromised over time. “

In this study, it was unclear whether this disorder was due to a simulated lack of gravity or due to the confinement and isolation that participants experienced for 60 days.

Another 2021 study published in Acta Astronautica produced a mental health checklist based on the stressors faced by astronauts. This is also shared by those who spend months at research bases in Antarctica.

These two extreme environments (the edge of the universe and the world) create a lack of privacy, a changing cycle of light and darkness, confinement, isolation, monotony, and long-term separation from family and friends.

Candice Alfano, a professor of psychology at the University of Houston, and her team have designed a checklist as a self-reporting method for tracking these changes in mental health. The biggest change reported by people at the two Antarctic Research Expeditions was that they had no “bounce” effect when preparing to return home, and their positive emotions diminished from the beginning to the end of their nine-month stay. ..

Participants also used less effective strategies to increase positive emotions.

“Therefore, interventions and measures aimed at raising positive emotions may be important in reducing psychological risk in extreme situations,” Alfano said.

Protect explorers from home

Helping astronauts maintain their spiritual sharpness and health when adventuring far from home is an important goal of NASA’s Human Research Program. In the past, the program has developed countermeasures to help astronauts fight muscle and bone loss, such as daily training on the space station.

Researchers are actively investigating the idea of ​​how meaningful work can connect mission crews.When astronauts work As a team, on the space station or on simulated Mars In the global environment, their collaboration is towards a common goal.

And when you’re done, you can fight the feeling of isolation by watching a movie together or enjoying recreational activities.

However, missions to Mars can take months or years, depending on the spacecraft’s design, and can lead to a sense of monotony and confinement. And mission control and frequent contact with loved ones on Earth will become more confusing as they move away from Earth.

Astronauts celebrate a record Chilean harvest in space with taco nights

In a 2021 interview with CNN, Alexandra Wittmia, an elemental scientist at the Human Research Program, said: “It is very important for us to understand the individual who is responsible for that mission.”

Some crew members may get excited and fulfilled by engaging in scientific experiments, while others may need to tinker with other tasks. Previous studies have already identified key characteristics that deep space explorers may need, such as independence and problem-solving.

One of the amazing discoveries on the space station is how food, and crop growth, contributes to morale of the crew while maintaining a very important concrete connection to the home. about it.

Avoiding
It’s no wonder that space food needs to be a safe and stable source of nutrition, yet delicious. However, actively growing vegetables was a rewarding and delicious experience for the former crew of the space station.
Astronauts report how fulfilling they were to take care of lush green plants, radishes, and hatches. Seeing the peppers and plants flourish, they ultimately produce edible blessings.

Scientists in human research programs are wondering if this sense of fulfillment can be taken one step further.Astronauts like Scott Kelly or Christina Koch talked about how they couldn’t wait to return to Earth after a long space flight and feel the rain and ocean waves again.

Guided images and virtual reality features could become a necessary part of space flight in the future to remind astronauts of their sensory connection to “blue marble.”

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