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Uncovered vulnerabilities for Nasa's manned Mars mission



WASHINGTON: Scientists are developing a predictive model that NASA can use to predict conflicts and communications disruptions among crewmembers and solve problems that could affect or destroy the future manned US space agency mission to Mars.

NASA has made plans to send a crewed spacecraft to Mars, a journey that can span 250 million miles, researchers from Northwestern University in the US said.

In a multiphase study, scientists investigate the behavior of analogous astronaut crews in mock missions with isolation, sleep deprivation, purpose-built tasks, and mission control that mimic real space travel with delayed communication.

The goal is to identify the impact of isolation and limitation on team performance, identify ways to improve team performance, develop a predictive model that will help Nasa build the ideal team and identify and identify potential issues with already-assembled teams during the mission

Even for an astronaut, the psychological demands of this trip to Mars will be extraordinary.

The spacecraft is small and about the size of a studio, and the tour takes almost three years.

"Astronauts are super-human, incredibly physically fit and extremely intelligent," said Leslie DeChurch, a professor at Northwestern University.

"We are adopting an already state-of-the-art crew selection system and making it even better by identifying the values, characteristics and other characteristics that allow NASA to assemble crews that will get along," said DeChurch.

Delays in communicating with worldwide mission controls exceed the 20-minute mark. In that sense, the Mars mission will be like no previous mission.

"Many of the past efforts to create models to simulate the future have come under criticism because people have said that it's not really based on good data," said Noshir Contractor, a professor at Northwestern University.

"What we have here is unprecedentedly good data, we do not talk about intuition and expert opinion, this model is based on real data," the contractor said.

Researchers selected data from the Human Experimentation Research Analog (HERA) at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The HERA Capsule Simulator accommodates astronauts for up to 45 days; A mission control outside the capsule enhances the realism with sound effects, vibrations and communication delays.

Those who are inside suffer from sleep deprivation and try to perform tasks. The researchers collect moment-to-moment figures on individual performance, moods, psychosocial adaptation and more.

According to the results of the first eight analog space crews, the teams have studied their reduced ability to think and solve problems creatively and can successfully complete tasks between 20 and 60 percent of the time.

"Creative thinking and problem-solving are the things that matter to a Mars mission, and we need the crew to get 1

00 percent the right answer," said DeChurch.

The researchers also extend the experiment to the SIRIUS analogue in Moscow, where as of March 15, four Russians and two Americans will perform a 120-day fictional mission around the Moon, including a moon landing.


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