Alexander Kumar, a physician and researcher at Concordia Station, writes from Antarctica, where he conducts scientific experiments for the European Space Agency’s human spaceflight program.
Antarctica can be an overpowering and overwhelming continent, and spending winter in the Antarctic has been used as a comparable setting for long-term manned spaceflight and as a model for planetary exploration.
So the question we face is: How can we produce the “perfect astronaut” — someone who, through honed selection and detailed and directed training, can operate under any degree of isolation, stress and sensory deprivation, both effectively at individual tasks and as a sociable, skilled and appropriate crew member, for a manned mission to Mars?
To answer this question we first have to think about how a person interacts with and is challenged by extreme environments. Broadly speaking, the major stresses and challenges affecting human life, which in turn affect performance within extreme environments ranging from space to the Antarctic winter, can be divided into these five categories:
1. Physiological (physical) — from radiation to altered circadian rhythm; in space, this includes adaptation to microgravity and Space Adaptation Sickness (S.A.S.), whereas in high-altitude areas of Antarctica, it includes exposure to low oxygen levels and chronic hypobaric pressure.
2. Psychological — living within a hostile or alien extreme environment “away from the norm,” isolation, confinement, high risk or potential for loss of life and limited sensory stimuli.
3. Psychosocial — forced, close-quarters interpersonal contact, crew factors (culture, sex, size, personalities, etc.) and conflict and resolution.
4. Human factors — limited communications, fluctuating workload levels, risk, dealing with equipment failure, use of equipment within extreme environments, and increased reliance on technology for survival.
5. Habitability — hygiene limitations, a relative lack of privacy, artificial lighting, noise exposure and unusual sleep facilities.
More - Link >>> http://scientistatwork.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/how-to-make-the-perfect-astronaut/
Source: The New York Times.
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