Society and Workplace Diversity Research Group

Psychological countermeasures for human space missions

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Human space missions are entering a new era.  Space exploration activities are developing world-wide at an unprecedented pace with emerging nations participating in these endeavors. Ambitious plans on the horizon involve future exploratory missions to Mars, the establishment of the Gateway, a periodically manned space station orbiting the moon, and lunar surface landings. Additionally, there is a concerted effort to achieve sustained human presence in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Living and working in space presents inherent risks, exposing the crew to a multitude of stressors that can impact the psychological and physiological health and functioning of astronauts. Moreover, effective teamwork during space missions is crucial, requiring collaboration among crew members with diverse national, professional, and organizational backgrounds. The successful realization of these goals hinges on addressing these challenges and ensuring the crew's ability to function efficiently in the unique environments of outer space.

Sponsored by the European Space Agency, a longstanding project is undertaken to delineate psychological countermeasures that can effectively optimize psychological and team functions during space missions. A secondary objective is to assess the sensitivity of methods that can be employed to monitor psychological parameters during such missions. Ultimately, the project aims to determine the potential utility of ground-based facilities for researching psychological factors associated with human space missions. This extensive project has entailed data collection from astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and various space simulation studies that involve confining multinational crews for extended periods. Furthermore, investigations have been conducted on overwintering crews at Antarctic research stations and various expeditions to remote areas. To read more, you can explore the links provided below.