Although the return to the Moon has been postponed for a year, the international tests for the simulation on Earth of a long stay of man on the Moon and on Mars . In this regard, we cite the experiments started some time ago in Dubai, which were followed in the following years by those at the Johnson Space Center of NASA and the recent test held in the Negev desert in Israel. And also Russia – with Roscosmos – has an ongoing research program called Sirius (Scientific International Research in Unique Terrestrial Station), which involves as partners the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, NASA and specialists from various countries including Russia, USA, Germany, France, Italy and Belgium.
There are currently three Sirius simulations: the first took place in 2017 and had a duration of only 17 days, the second in 2019 was four months long. And now, in Moscow, a new experiment has been launched in which six volunteers – three from Russia, two from the USA, one from the UAE – will simulate life on the Moon for eight months . Sirius – 21 has just begun, as the six “astronauts” “left” on November 4th, 12 days ago. As in the past, useful information of a predominantly psychological type will be collected , in order to verify the behavior of each participant of the mission and their interrelationships.
This is a fundamental aspect in view of the permanence of man on the Moon and Mars, much ‘is that by 2028 the Russian Academy of Sciences and NASA will simulate a three-year period of total isolation . The experiment currently underway in Moscow has provided the launch towards the Moon (obviously simulated), the moon landing and will end with the return to Earth . The only interaction the six can have with the outside world is via email with loved ones and with Mission Control via radio.
During these eight months, the astronauts will have to carry out various research activities and collect materials (also with the aid of ad hoc AR viewers), will be constantly monitored from a medical point of view and will have to carry out physical activity to stay in form. Food will also be reduced – no succulent lunches, extensive use of greenhouse-grown products will be made – and in line with what the astronauts who will leave for the natural satellite will assimilate. Communications “with the Earth” will have a simulated delay to be even more truthful.
MATERIAL FROM PAST TRIALS
If it will take several months to get data on the test in progress, there is already material available to be explored coming from the previous simulations . The first results were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology and highlight behavioral characteristics of the “guinea pigs” to be taken into account in the next missions (the real ones).
THE SIMULATED PHASES IN THE SIRIUS PROJECT – 19
- flight to the Moon
- overflight to identify the landing site
- landing of 4 crew members for the first operations
- stay of the other members in the lunar orbit
- remote control of the lunar rover for prepare the base
- return to Earth
- on the moon: 79 psychological and physiological experiments , essential to “ systematically prepare future missions to the Moon and minimize risks “- Sergei Valentinovich Savelyev, Deputy Director General for International Cooperation of Roscosmos.
- after some time spent in solitary confinement, the crew members showed full control over the mission, confidence in their own means and a high level of collaboration reciprocal .
- the different personalities and the behavior of the individuals tended to uniform , smoothing out the inevitable character and cultural differences.
- as time goes by, the crew has reduced the c communications with Mission Control , “ sharing less and less their needs and problems “, as explained by Dmitry Shved, one of the authors of the study. “ Except for important aspects of the mission, such as landing simulation ” .
- there was a risk that control of the mission could be lost, even with the potential danger of mutiny by the space crew, increasingly autonomous in their decisions. However, this is unlikely to happen once the missions are real, given that astronauts will inevitably depend on supplies from Earth. In short, rebelling will not be convenient at all.
- the behaviors were slightly different according to gender : the women reacted differently to stress than men , showing more joy or sadness through facial expressions than did not do the male counterpart. However, it must be taken into account that the three women in the experiment came from the same country – Russia – as opposed to the men (two from Russia and one from Germany in Sirius – 17, one from Russia and two from the USA in Sirius – 19). Among the latter, therefore, the cultural difference may have had the greatest impact.
- at the end of the experimentation there was a convergence of communication styles of all members crew – for example: volume of the voice and externalization of emotions.
There will still be a need to thoroughly investigate how humans react to long periods of isolation: it is a fundamental aspect as much as the purely technological aspect of space missions, on which agencies and experts will have to work on in the coming years. If you want to learn more, the study is available at the link in SOURCE, while HERE you will find information on the crew members and extracts from the logbooks.