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US institute wraps up data collection in Russian Mars 520-day mission simulation
Date:11/8/2011

HOUSTON -- For the past 17 months, researchers with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) collected data to evaluate the impact of prolonged operational confinement on the sleep, performance, and mood of six crew members during a Mars mission simulation in Moscow. The 520-day simulation, which concluded Nov. 4, was conducted by the State Scientific Center of the Russian Federation Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

As the only U.S. organization participating in the simulation, NSBRI monitored the multi-national crew's rest-activity patterns, performance and psychological responses to determine the extent to which sleep loss, fatigue, stress, mood changes and conflicts occurred during the mission. The 520-day simulation began June 3, 2010, when the hatches were closed to the IBMP spacecraft-like confinement facility. The simulated mission had more than 90 experiments and realistic scenarios, including emergency situations, 20-minute communications delays and a trip to a simulated Martian surface. The mission was broken into three phases: 250 days for the trip to Mars, 30 days on the surface and 240 days for the return to Earth.

NSBRI Neurobehavioral and Psychosocial Factors Team Leader Dr. David Dinges is the principal investigator for the U.S. project. Dinges, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, said the data collected during the simulation could provide valuable insight for future long-duration space missions.

"The data from this Mars mission simulation begins to tell us whether some of the things that might be problems for humans going into space prolonged confinement, isolation from family, etc. can be managed or mitigated during extended missions beyond low-Earth orbit," Dinges said. "The data collected can also tell us how those factors impact a multi-national crew. We really need information from these kinds of studies because
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Contact: Brad Thomas
rbthomas@bcm.edu
713-798-7595
National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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