BBC Radio covers the psychology of Mars missionCollaborative research
While searching for more clues on the most important psychological features the crew needs to have, BBC Radio published a podcast interviewing psychologists and candidates, one of them Ryam MacDonald.
Sheryl Bishop, University of Texas specializes in the psychology of space, she says in our known universe, it’s the human reaction that remains unknown. This was described as the known unknown scenario, one of curiosity and worry.
“Since we’ve never had a long duration mission, there is a great deal of concern that we don’t have all the pieces necessary to do as good a job as we’d like to in order to select for long duration. And that’s why there’s such a high activity right now in looking at analogue environments to look at and flush out those factors that might be really critical.” Bishop says.
Simulation is very important
Bishop continues, “you don’t know what you don’t know and it’s very difficult to understand what you don’t know if you don’t have an actually environment in order to go ahead and test out some of these ideas about what would be the best person for a long duration mission”
Another psychologist believes that personal time and space is going to be the big issue. It was found in programs such as the Extra Behavioural Activity test done in Hawaii, cultural clash could become difficult to cope with and cross cultural boundaries communication was vital.
Dr. Norbert Kraft Chief Medical Officer spent 110 days in an isolation chamber in Moscow, “We were 2 groups so 1 one was a Russian group and our group was an international one but what happened is that the culture clashed with each other because they were not trained on what another culture expects so 2 of the Russians and one of our members started a fistfight. But after that they were good buddies again. However the Japanese was completely shocked…he left the isolation chamber after 60 days.”
It seems that there would be 2 steps to picking the right team:
- Identify individuals who are good on their own
- Create a healthy dynamic for the group from these individuals
There is NO group that will not have conflict but you can train a group to be resilient. Quick resolution, highly cohesive group tend to be autonomous. But may not be obedient to group control so how much of a problem is that?
Mars One is controversial and uncertain. Humans are most curious when we know a lot about something but are a lot is still left to be found. This is called “the information gap theory of curiosity” when probes are sending us tantalizing clues, filling in the gap with hypotheticals can make people more curious.
Another aspect that’s important is the sleep wake cycle, which helps humans in time keeping.
It was mentioned again that the view of our planet has sustained and inspired previous astronauts. But now it won’t be seen and this detachment is going to be a big unknown challenge.