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520-day Mars mission simulation
Date:6/3/2010

ent of how well the task was performed relative to someone who is fully alert and capable. The report also indicates how many times responses were too slow and how many times responses occurred before the signal came on," Dinges said. "So, there is a measure of impulsivity as well as fatigue."

Crew members do the assessment tests on their own specialized laptops programmed by Pulsar Informatics with built-in cameras to record facial expressions during testing. Facial video data will be evaluated off-line by computer algorithms developed in the Metaxas laboratory, where an optical computer recognition system is being created and validated in collaboration with Dinges for use in space to unobtrusively detect signs of sleepiness, negative moods and stress.

Every seventh day of the Mars 520-day mission simulation, the assessment tests are completed in the morning and before sleep. The tests take 10 minutes, requiring only 20 minutes of the crew member's time on testing day, and include PVT Self Test and other measures of sleep quality/quantity, fatigue, stress, moods, conflict and depression.

"The crew is on a six-day work week. Because they take the test every seven days, we will get data from every day of their work cycle 14 times throughout the mission," Dinges said.

For Dinges, the need to obtain data in this type of environment is essential.

"This simulated Mars mission is by far the longest-duration study of crew confinement under operating conditions attempted to date. It will have an impact on planning for exploration missions," Dinges said. "It provides something we can't learn from much shorter-duration simulations or from the 180-day stays on the space station: namely, what is the effect on crews of living and working for 520 days in continuous confinement?"

Mars 500 will allow Dinges and others to find out whether the ability to sleep well, attend to tasks, react quickly, maintain positive moods, and fe
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Contact: Kathy Major
major@bcm.edu
713-306-3532
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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