Part of being a traveler to a distant planet or even solar system is surviving the long journey, something which NASA has been thoroughly exploring as of late. NASA’s Human Research Program has announced that it would be receiving proposals from scientists throughout January of next year for possible ways of sustaining humans in deep space for long periods of time. This would entail the examination of both physical and mental reactions as to determine the risk factors that would arise from elongated space missions. The purpose for this is to accommodate future astronauts for a proposed 400-day deep space mission as well as round-trip missions to Mars, which are estimated to take about three years.
“…we need to observe more astronauts spending larger amounts of time in the space environment,” said John Charles, NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s associate director for Exploration Research Planning of the Human Research Program.
While previous studies have been conducted on the effects on the human body in space, these were limited to ISS’s missions which typically last for six months. The only unique data that exceeded the six-month mark was from a 2015 mission where American astronaut, Scott Kelly, and Russian Cosmonaut, Mikhail Kornienko, spent a year aboard the ISS.
However, NASA wants to dig deeper into the potential health reactions during longer missions in space. According to NASA’s press release, the research will focus on five specific dangers linked to human space missions. These include distance from Earth, space radiation, confinement and isolation, gravity fields, and closed or hostile environments.
As part of the future study, thirty astronauts will be chosen to conduct missions that would last for two months, six months and one year. Ten astronauts will be involved in each mission. Analog studies will be conducted on Earth where eighteen individuals will be selected for four months, eight months, and one year.
All of this new data will be assimilated and adapted for future voyages to Mars, and maybe even farther than that.
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