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A long experiment is revealing the psychological effects of life in space – RB

A long experiment is revealing the psychological effects of life in space – RB

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A long experiment is revealing the psychological effects of life in space – RB

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A long experiment is revealing the psychological effects of life in space – RB

SCIENCE

Volunteers involved in the SIRIUS experiment – 21 240 days will pass in complete isolation within the simulation of a mission to the moon

January 1st 2022

The SIRIUS project is a very long experiment started in 2017 which sees the participation of the NASA Human Research Program and the Space Agencies of Russia, Germany and France.

The first two phases of the project have already been completed, and the third major experiment of the SIRIUS program is now underway – at the Russian Academy of Science.

SIRIUS – 21: the simulation of the life in space

The third phase of SIRIUS, which started in the first week of November and will last another 6 months, intends to prepare the ground for future long-duration space missions by evaluating the possible psychological effects of life in space .

The experiment therefore recreates the conditions of extreme isolation to which the pioneers of space exploration will be subjected: it involves a group of six volunteers , intended to live for 240 days not only in isolation, but within a mission to the Moon – simulated.

SIRIUS – 21 provides that the volunteers carry out all the operations foreseen by the mission , from launch to landing and returning to Earth.

As reported by the Russian news agency TASS, the aim of the project is to “study the problems related to human behavior in a confined space, including psychological ones”.

Sergei Ponomarev , director of the project, recently stated in a long interview with SwordsToday: “the main purpose is to to lay the scientific and practical foundations for deep space travel “. From the third phase of SIRIUS, according to Ponomarev, we will have the opportunity to obtain important data on the effects of long-term space travel on the physical and mental health of astronauts.

The wait for the results

SIRIUS stands for Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station, and identifies a large structure within the Institute for Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences . Here the internal environment of a spaceship is reconstructed, but the volunteers involved in the project will also be able to experience life on the Moon, thanks to special supports that allow you to simulate the lunar gravity through the use of virtual technology.

During the experiment, the volunteers are following a tight scientific program which includes more than 70 experiments, ranging from psychology to microbiology. In their free time, explains Ponomarev, “they can read books or play board games”. And of course, they can abandon the experiment for any reason and without giving an explanation.

The hope is to obtain, at the end of the very long period of isolation, concrete results on the psychological effects of life in space . And that they are not of the same type as those obtained from the two previous experiments.

The results of the other experiments, which took place respectively in 2017 and in 2019, have in fact fully confirmed the fears of the researchers: the delays in communications due to the simulation of distance, over time, cause a sort of “detachment” from the mission. The astronauts, that is, would tend to become completely autonomous from mission control: a risk that is not possible to run in a real space mission.

It is true that the quality of the results obtained was far from definitive: “each new experiment adds new data to those previously obtained” comments Ponomarev “and from each experiment we have new answers “.

The fate of the SIRIUS project is therefore still long, with a fourth experiment ready to start in 2022 . “We hope to have many years of experiments to come in the next few years,” concludes the Project Director: the next experiment will simulate a mission to Mars, and will also include experiments in the medical sector.