What is the psychological impact of long space travel on astronauts?

Beijing time on November 19, according tomedia reports, in 1973, the United States space station “Space Lab” astronauts once announced a strike, refused to contact the mission command center. They complain edithicked and demanded proper relaxation of the schedule. After this request was rejected, they decided to take the initiative on their own, so they did almost nothing but enjoy the view outside the window all day.

What is the psychological impact of long space travel on astronauts?

The astronauts later recorded: “Our work is so full that we have to be busy all day.” The work is tiring and boring, but the view outside the window is spectacular. “

The protest took place just halfway through their 84-day mission. The astronauts later called it a “strike” and others called it a “riot.” In any case, the incident suggests that long-term space missions pose additional challenges for astronauts. And as people become more serious about Mars exploration missions, such missions will certainly pose a serious threat to the psychological state of astronauts.

Researchers hope to use Antarctica to study the effects of long-term space travel on human mental health. It is indeed appropriate to compare Antarctica to space. First, Antarctica is dark, with months of polar nights every year, which breaks our customary circadian cycle; After all, there is a sparse lysinthere.

Polar explorers have come up with the concept of “three-quarters of the phenomenon” that begins to lose motivation when people realize that they have been trapped for long periods of time in a situation that cannot escape. And the strike at the space lab may be one example of that. Although not everyone agrees with the phenomenon, it does appear to occur in a variety of situations, including simulated space missions.

To test this, scientists studied the mood of 27 staff members at the Antarctic Science Station, The Kanghong Station. The average temperature around The Conhom station is minus 60 degrees, and outsiders can only come there between November and February. But instead of feeling depressed at half-time of the mission, the staff here begin to go into so-called “psychological hibernation” when they feel depressed and isolated from the world.

To some extent, this hibernating state may be a good thing and can help staff save resources. Still, there are some risks to mental hibernation. If something similar happens on a long journey to Mars, it’s even more dangerous. In the event of an emergency, people must be able to react quickly. Therefore, in the long-term space mission, the safety of the security must be given more consideration.

In fact, the planning of these space missions is well aware of the risks of boredom and monotony, so astronauts must be designed to offset these negative emotions by designing “tailor-made” entertainment.

Sleep will play a key role in helping astronauts meet the spiritual needs of the Mars mission. But without a day or night cycle, “sleep well for a night” is actually hard to do. On Earth, our sleep and wake cycles are affected by both fatigue and daylight. But astronauts are suffering because they can’t use sunlight to regulate their sleep patterns, leading to sleep disturbances.

Scientists have observed this phenomenon during a simulated mission to Mars on Earth. Four of the six crew members of the 17-month Mars 500 mission, which ended in 2011, had sleep disorders. One of them suffered from chronic sleep deprivation, while the other had sleep time that was out of sync with other team members.

Researchers point out that people are better able to respond to the environment if they sleep better. Ensured good sleep quality is therefore critical to physical and mental health, both in everyday life or in space flight.

But some aspects of long-term space missions cannot be simulated on Earth. For example, on a trip to Mars, the Earth will become smaller in the eyes of astronauts, eventually becoming a small point that is few invisible. And we know that being able to “see from space to Earth” is one of the most interesting experiences in space travel and an important factor in keeping astronauts positive. But for months, they couldn’t experience this happiness, so they had to find something else that would interest astronauts.

Scientists have proposed 23 precautions to help astronauts maintain their mental health, and have pioneered tests on Antarctic scientists. It turns out that the longer people stay in the Antarctic in winter, the more mood swings.

Scientists also found that people who do things more positivetend tend to focus more on pleasant things and less on negative things, so they don’t relive what they’ve done wrong and try to remedy it.

While “ignoring what you’ve done wrong” may sound counterintuitive, after all, anything that goes wrong in space can be disastrous. But if you do something wrong in space and don’t do anything, leaving it behind your head may be the healthiest thing to do, the researchers say.

But if astronauts ignore their mental state, the problem is serious. Because of the 22-minute delay in communication between Mars and Earth, astronauts can’t get in touch with Earth anytime, anywhere, so they have to monitor their emotions, be aware of their problems, and correct themselves in a timely manner.

Finding someone with this personality would be the first step in a long space mission. Six months on the International Space Station isn’t as easy as loitering in a park, so start with the basic astronaut selection process, without having to look for a special class of astronauts.

In addition to being able to tolerate boredom, introverted personality can also be a big advantage, because such people do not have a strong social need. In addition, stable emotions are one of the most important psychological traits of astronauts.

Harmony within the team is also very important. Scientists collected data from russian cosmonauts to study the impact of teamwork and cultural diversity on team performance. It turns out that once an ideal team is established, team members can maintain a good state of mind with a little adjustment and improvement to the environment.

We know that the Earth’s natural environment helps relieve stress and improve attention. But on the spaceship, the real natural environment is undoubtedly a “luxury”. In response, scientists conducted an experiment in Antarctica in which a former NASA astronaut wore a VR (virtual reality) helmet to see if it could help scientists address the psychological needs of isolation. The astronaut said that every time he put on his helmet, he did feel like he was getting out of his everyday environment.

The experiment is still ongoing, but scientists point out that staff at the station have begun to take the initiative to wear VR helmets, suggesting that VR technology is really useful in this situation. The virtual sights they can see now include beaches in Australia, the Alps, the coast of Ireland, autumn in the UK, and Boston, lest some subjects want to experience the hustle and bustle of city life. Previous tests conducted in Hawaii showed that most of the subjects liked pure nature, but some liked the urban environment because they missed the people around them the most.

If you set up a virtual window on the spacecraft to simulate the effect of looking at Earth from space, it can even help astronauts combat the low mood caused by not seeing the Earth.

In addition, as the space lab strike demonstrated, special breaks and relaxation seating must be arranged for space missions. Astronaut training has also been added to teaching them how to use their limited time on the International Space Station for efficient relaxation. Scientists believe that if astronauts add classes such as meditation and yoga to their daily training, they may be able to de-stress on their long journey to Mars (provided they find a way to do yoga in weightlessness).

Now that we’re determined to set foot on Mars, “how to keep astronauts awake and sane along the way” is certainly a question worth studying. The astronaut’s mental state is important because if all goes well, the mission will be successful, but if something goes wrong, the mission may end there. (Leaf)

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