Skip to comments.Fake mission to Mars leaves astronauts spaced out
Posted on 01/07/2013 8:25:03 PM PST by BenLurkin
The drudge of interplanetary travel has emerged from research on six men who joined the longest simulated space mission ever: a 17-month round trip to the red planet in a pretend spaceship housed at a Moscow industrial estate.
Though chosen for the job as the best of the best, the would-be spacefarers spent more and more time under their duvets and sitting around idle as the mission wore on. The crew's activity levels plummeted in the first three months, and continued to fall for the next year.
On the return leg, the men spent nearly 700 hours longer in bed than on the outward journey, and only perked up in the last 20 days before they clambered from their capsule in November 2011. Four crew members suffered from sleep or psychological issues.
The ESA selected the crew from thousands of highly qualified applicants, and put them through a year of intensive training. But despite embodying "the right stuff" that underpins the astronaut corps, the men struggled with the tedium of the mission.
"The monotony of going to Mars and coming back again is something that will need to be addressed in the future. You don't want your crew hanging around doing nothing," Basner said. [No kidding]
According to the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, some crew members fared worse than others. One began living a 25-hour day, and quickly fell out of routine with the others.
Another crew member slept at night but took ever longer naps during the day. Taken together, the two men spent a fifth of their time, or 2,500 hours, asleep when the rest of the crew were awake, or vice-versa. "That cannot be good for mission success, because mission-critical tasks will be scheduled for the day," Basner said.
(Excerpt) Read more at guardian.co.uk ...
Dude, who ate my cheese ?
X-Box 360, kill zombies. Oh or better yet, send them with their girlfriends/wifes/husbands/boyfriends.... then we can all watch via reality t.v. and fund the entire adventure!
They need some honeys on board. Let’s get real.
Sounds like they should have sent some Babes along... Who ate what?
‘Ground control to Major Tom....”
Agree with posts re. Dudes alone for 17 months is recipe for tension. Check on navy studies regarding long under ice cruises on boomersubs add women stir and also send a dog a cat a bird and also a garden. But most importantly have them build some module for the mission not critical but important
Scatter oakum on the decks...
Can you really store a 17 month supply of oxygen?
I thought this was the plot for a Twilight Zone episode.
Can you really store a 17 month supply of oxygen?
That sounds suspiciously like NCO kind of talk....
They make O2 out of urine now on the ISS.
You don't want to know details about the logistics for long-term spacecraft. Russians designed most of it, and it mostly works.
But the less you think about it... the better.
This has long been known. Ever since men have sailed long stretches aboard sailing ships, they are constantly given busywork to keep them occupied. The cleaning and maintenance is necessary, but it is also necessary for the mind.
If things turned out poorly when these men knew they were still on planet earth, I can imagine what the effect would be when they are in fact surrounded by an empty, airless, cold and heartless void.
Send the duck calls dudes, their wives and a few gators and that would be interesting.
Whiskey, Women, and Bowie Knives, should liven things up.
Did I say “Women”? I meant Woman.
The problem is they sent the “best of the best”. What they need to do is lock up a few couch potatoes with enough beer and chips to last them, and then see how it goes.
How about some floors to wax and a two man team for a one man buffer? :)
Because an hour later, you find the floor screwed up, but have one guy that can ski on a buffer while the other one eggs him on. I've played those E-2 games, as both an E-2 and an NCO.
The kids never figured it out. No, no eyes in the back of my head, I just asked myself what would I do as an E-2? And there you go... catching them red-handed at whatever mischief they got into.
“That cannot be good for mission success, because mission-critical tasks will be scheduled for the day”
Jus make em go to sleep when the sun goes down and they’ll get up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when it comes back up!
This is a really tough environment. Locked in a windowless room with the same 5 guys, 24 hours a day, for a YEAR AND A HALF.
It only differs from solitary confinement in that you’re not totally solitary. As far as exercising: Limited space to do it in.
For one thing, develop faster engines to cut the travel time. Apparently this experiment assumed about an 8-month journey both ways. There’s an engine under development that could cut a 16 month trip down to a 3 month trip.
Secondly, ditch the astronaut’s ability to control ambient light. Simulate day and night with immutable computer-controlled lighting that closely mimics sunlight. Synchronize ship’s time with point of origin time.
Add 2 or 3 flat-screen displays in different ship areas. One might be a synchronized recording of a video camera overlooking Times Square. One might be a village street in England. One might be a farm scene. Mix it up a bit.
Make educational programs available: Hire astronauts who would like to pursue a degree or other classroom program while traveling, and play a classroom videotape at specified times. Have the astronauts submit do and coursework which would be transmitted to instructors and graded. In other words, they’re enrolled in real college while traveling. It’s Tuesday morning. I have to get up and go to my 8:30 Applied Marketing class.
Better yet, have at least some of the astronauts TEACH a class. Put them in front of a video camera with a book and transmit the result to a real class, of real students, on earth. Have interaction with the students. Have them grade the students’ papers.
Other jobs can be found for some of the others. Have them develop some real web sites. Do business consulting. Do tutoring or some kind of coaching, via video.
Some could write one or more books while making the journey. Fiction, nonfiction — whichever.
Upload video tapes of friends’ bicycle journeys, and have astronauts take a daily bike ride “with” their friends. This can include video of the trip and recorded commentary by the friend. Bike different locations: Today we’re doing the neighborhood circuit; next week we’re biking the scenic railroad route. Make it so that their earthbound friends can check up on the astronauts (and verify biking activity with the OTHER astronauts) in order to facilitate a bit of competition and accountability.
Set earth communications at a specific time each day. Internet is available in the evening. Except... maybe daily news and weather is available for a while in the a.m.
Storage is cheap these days. Store a lot of likely-to-be-accessed web sites.
Look at providing artificial gravity (perhaps using a tether of some sort) and possibly a “hamster wheel” where astronauts might go for walks and jogs. Make it wide enough for two astronauts to jog at the same time, and include a position bar and a video screen that takes them on different journeys.
Assign as many physical tasks as possible. Include some projects, with hand tools that can’t easily be used as weapons. Here’s some wood, instructions, and tools to shave and shape and sand the wood with. Hand-craft a small piece of furniture. Make it so that you can easily assemble it for demonstration, and then disassemble it for storage.
In short, make the journey as little like being locked up in near-solitary confinement a tin can, and as much like living on earth and working a real job with daily responsibilities, as you can.
You know what *REMINDS* me of a Twilight Zone episode? The *OBAMA* administration!
Oh - and turn the TV and video off between, say, 11 at night and 6 am. Make only “night lights” and small desk-type lamps (and books) available during those hours.
But don’t make it totally rigid. Give each astronaut a certain allowance for deviating from the routine. In other words, you can stay up late maybe 2 or 3 nights a week. If you haven’t used up your allowance, go for it. But make it no more than, say, 4 nights maximum in any week even if the astronaut has “saved up” late nights.
The good news is that getting back from Mars is impossible at the moment - so they would only have to worry about 8.5 months of travel.
Imagine a crew crammed into an Orion capsule for the 445 day and 700 plus day mission planned to sample asteroids, especially since Obama foolishly cancelled the Altair lander.
On top of that, no one is going to Mars, or even to an asteroid, without NASA relaxing its standard on the individually calculated lifetime probability of "Radiation Exposure Induced Death," or "REID." An astronaut today is grounded if that calculation exceeds (or is expected to exceed 3 percent), and the sad fact is that a round trip ticket to Mars exceeds that standard going out the gate.
And nuclear rockets won't best the Holmann transfer orbit travel time by more than a third.
Handing the Moon over the Chinese is one of the dumbest ideas to come down the pike since the missile scandals of the Clinton administration.
We left a kid to his own devices one day and caught him doing doughnuts in the new paint hangar on an aircraft tractor.
If I may summarize your detailed and well presented suggestions:
1. The Internet
2. Japanese Porn
3. Alcohol and home-brewing supplies.
I look forward to future space missions and will enjoy the entertainment provided by 5 drunk Cosmonauts fighting over whose turn it is to watch "Hello Kitty Does Nagasaki!"
The internet is a part of normal daily life - yours included - so it only makes sense to make it a part of a mission in which you want to mimic normal daily life.
Obviously, I said nothing about Japanese porn or alcohol.
Realistically, those things are probably going to be part of the mix anyway. If you don’t realize that at least one flash drive with porn on it would likely make a 17-month trip with half a dozen guys, internet access or no, then you’re kidding yourself.
As far as alcohol is concerned, Russians on long space flights on the ISS already consume it.
Yeah, radiation is the big, big problem.
Apparently you would really need walls made of about 6 feet thicknesses of lead or concrete.
Very difficult problem.
Apparently we have proof-of-concept for a magnetic radiation shield, though.
Enlisted 1979 as an E1 retired 2012 as a LTC
The main theme in this episode, as the title suggests, is the difference between aloneness and loneliness and its effect on humans. The commanding officer in the final scene sums this up, observing, "The barrier of loneliness that's the one thing we haven't licked yet."
Make certain that there is a Facebook connection so they can play words with friends. That would kill 2700 hours without blinking an eye.
When Michael Foale was doing his stretch on Mir, he was doing a PAO event where he was asked what would be one of the biggest negatives one would have to deal with on an extended trip like Mars. He said that looking out the window and seeing the blackness of space would be one of them. Being used to seeing the blue hues of Earth is restfull, looking at nothing but blackness would be a huge mental block. Looking at an unchanging scene WOULD be a huge mental blockage. Once you’re a few weeks away from Earth and the same from Mars would be boring.
Unless a major advance in propulsion is developed, a trip to Mars has a LOT of drawbacks. If you could get there in a few months then no biggie. Any longer and the crew would start freaking out on each other. From what I’ve read, the crew would be on the trip for 600 days. That is a huge committment. Getting there and back quicker would be prefferable to the grind of a longer and more boring passage.
Yep. A few flash drives of that size and a cheap netbook computer = quite possibly enough porn to last the entire 17 months. No internet connection even needed.
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