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Weekend Diversion: It’s like going to Mars

March 29, 2009 on 4:43 pm | In Random Stuff |

So, to send a crew to Mars (round-trip), you need them to commit to being completely isolated, with only sporadic communication with Earth, for two years at minimum! And that’s assuming you take the minimum time to get there and back, which means you’re only on the surface for 14 days! Since Mars has about a 25 minute time lag on round-trip communications, you’re going to be very isolated from the world. Which prompts scientists to ask the question: will you go crazy?

Well, to answer this question, they are putting 6 people into an enclosed space with enough supplies and gear to ensure survival, but with no outside contact! They’re going to do this for 90 days, and then, if that works well, a longer experiment where they do it for 520 days! Looking for a job? It pays $6,500 a month!

Because one of the things that there hasn’t been much research on is on the psychological stability (or lack thereof) of a very small group of people being, for an extended period of time, not only isolated from society, but isolated in a small, cramped, enclosed, dark space. Right?

Oh. Right. Submarines. Wouldn’t have thought of that one.

No, there are differences, and the research is useful. I know that. Just wanted to share a neat little bit of news with you this weekend.


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  1. Where do I apply?

    Comment by Richard — March 29, 2009 #

  2. Was attached to a submarine (The USS Key West) for about four years. The longest underway (time between ports) that we had was 88 days. Was told when we were done that it was one of the longest underways in Submarine history.

    An American Fast Attack submarine (on average) takes about one 6 month deployment every two years or so and will divide that up between three to six port calls (sometimes for R&R, but usually for maintenance and parts).

    Just speaking personally, the biggest problem with extended underways is the lack of anywhere else to go. Every room has a function and anywhere you could be involves work (except the rack, but they know where you sleep).

    I might consider doing something like this…but with one major caveat. There has to be women on board (which is different than the Navy’s current policy regarding women onboard submarines). 88 days without seeing a member of the opposite sex makes people act weird .

    Comment by Justin — March 30, 2009 #

  3. Wow. And these volunteers won’t be the ones going. That’s a big thing to do to be a guinea pig. If I were still single, I might consider 90 days, but no way I’d do a year and a half.

    I’m surprised they’re allowing NO outside contact, rather than just limiting it severely. The real mission will have intermittent contact, and it’d be easy to give them email windows (with delayed delivery) along with prepared batches of news and other information.

    Comment by benhead — March 31, 2009 #

  4. I think these missions would work so much better with married couples on board. I’m not just talking about newly weds, I’m talking about couples who have been married for at least 5-10 years with proven relationships. My wife and I are problem solvers. When we have arguments we try to figure out where the problem originated. When you drop your pride and realize that things aren’t as bad as you make them out to be then you can live with each other regardless of the conditions.

    Comment by jeffrey Root — April 3, 2009 #

  5. On that note. You could probably take criminals from their cells and put them into this program. I bet they would do great lol.

    Comment by jeffrey Root — April 3, 2009 #

  6. Benhead,

    As I understood the article on BBC, it’s only physical contact that’s removed. They will indeed communicate with ‘Earth’ using time delays.

    Jeffrey Root,

    Even married couples have arguments. Divorce does happen. Think how much worse that’d be when you could not separate. And what if you fall for one of your fellow passengers? Back here you’d be able to avoid temptation by shunning them. Not so on a two year mission in space.

    Yes, the idea has merit, but it needs as much testing as any other plan.

    Comment by Sili — April 4, 2009 #

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