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giovedì 2 maggio 2013

Discoveries - Getting inside the mind of an astronaut

Astronauts headed for Mars would have to battle with side effects due to space travel, but scientists say mimicking conditions on Earth inside a spacecraft could be key to solving these problems. A mock spacecraft was built to simulate a real mission as closely as possible, with a communication delay with “ground control” and no natural light: so six volunteers remained in it for 520 days. Some tests showed that the crew members became more sedentary and four of them suffered disturbed sleep: so their activity levels dropped. Prof Mathias Basner says that astronauts must be helped to cope on a real mission to Mars, selecting the right crew. After Mars-500, were conducted others experiments connected to long-term space travel: for example in Gamma Breeze project with over 20 rhesus monkeys.

The Mars-500 mission was an attempt to simulate aspects of a mission to Mars such as the isolation, monotony and limited resources: they lived in a 550m3 volume, which bigger than a real spacecraft. One of the key psychological issues will be dislocation, because on a trip to Mars, at some point the Earth is going to be the size of a pin.
Radiation and microgravity, associated with muscle loss, bone loss and reduction in cardiovascular function, weren’t simulated.

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