Alps and beaches: chic interior design will help people in deep space

When it comes to creating the insidespacecraft, engineers often prefer functionality rather than aesthetics, focusing on materials and equipment that are safe and effective to fulfill the intended purpose of the vehicle. But some scientists say that the time has come to reconsider another important factor when designing the interior of a spacecraft: how does the interior affect the behavior of passengers?

For astronauts traveling on hugedistances — for example, on a trip to Mars — the interior design of a spacecraft can become critical to maintaining a happy mood and healthy mind during a trip. On any ship that goes to the Red Planet, cabins are likely to be limited; to bring massive objects into space is very expensive and difficult, so the interiors of such vehicles should be close. And passengers will hang out with the same group of people throughout the trip, which can take years. All of these conditions can create a nightmare scenario for a person’s psychological health, cause stress, disrupt sleep, plunge into depression and cause other negative feelings that may affect a space trip.

Space Station Interior

That is why the Space ^ 2 workshop, which will be heldNext week, this aspect of space travel, which is often overlooked, will be considered. The event will bring together astronauts, health professionals and design experts. All this will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On the agenda will be the types of technology and equipment that can be included in missions in deep space to make interplanetary travel more enjoyable. So far, astronauts, basically, go into space on short trips, up to a year. Because of this, the interiors of space ships are created around the optimization of volume and practically do not care about people. Experts believe that the time has come to change it.

"Not much has been done in terms of designand spacecraft interior, ”says Dorit Donovil, director of the Space Health Research Institute, one of the organizers of the conference. “Everything, as a rule, concerns the placement of levers, displays, the type of materials used to prevent the spread of bacteria. I don’t think something once seriously thought about the human side of behavior in this kind of environment. ”

Unfortunately, there is almost noresearch that would help engineers select the best design of a spacecraft to keep astronauts in a good mood. Because conducting research on the topic of isolation is a difficult task. “These are complex experiments that can not be conducted ethically in every corner of the world,” says Ted Smith, director of the Center for Healthy Air, Water and Soil at the University of Louisville. “In fact, we don’t know much about how the social psychology and the psychology of the individual deteriorate as the environmental conditions deteriorate.”

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And yet, some research in this areawere carried out. They were devoted to exploring how small groups of astronauts can live while trapped in a confined space for long periods of time. For the past six years, the University of Hawaii has watched an imitation of flights to Mars on one of the sides of the active Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. During these missions, small groups of people live together in a fake Mars HI-SEAS habitat for several months, which allows scientists to better understand how people can interact during a flight to Mars. (The owner of the HI-SEAS is now planning to conduct fake missions to the moon in the habitat, since NASA has been preoccupied with returning to the moon).

Between 2010 and 2011, Russia and Europeconducted a study of the life of a crew of six people who lived together on a spacecraft simulator for 520 days, which is approximately equal to the duration of the mission of people to Mars. During the experiment, they had only 225 square meters. Researchers found that some stopped moving a lot by the end of the experiment, some had increased symptoms of depression, and most of the participants had lost their sleep schedule. One of the crew members lost all day and night cycles.

Some historical situations providecontext for what could happen on mars. One Russian cosmonaut, Valentin Lebedev, wrote about his intense experience of 211 days spent in 1982 aboard the tiny Salyut-7 space station together with another crew member. “This is indeed a convincing story, because there were times when they didn’t even talk to each other,” says Jay Bucky, a former NASA astronaut and professor of medicine at Geisel Medical School. Numerous expeditions to Antarctica also put scientists in cramped conditions, small rooms surrounded by an inhospitable environment. Belgica, the first expedition that spent the winter on this continent in the late 1890s, experienced significant difficulties when the ship was trapped in the ice. The crew on board could not stay outside for too long, and many experienced serious mental health problems as a result of this experience. “They had a really high level of psychosocial problems, some of which could be related to the environment they were in,” says Bucky.

After all, humans are creatures of skin and meat,who get the most information in visual form, says Donovil, and space travel can deprive people of some of their usual things. “It’s hard to live with a small group of people for a long period of time, and there are definitely problems with stress, conflict, and sometimes depression,” says Baki. For example, when NASA departed from the use of space shuttles, flights with which lasted only a few weeks, to six-month watches on the International Space Station, unconfirmed reports appeared that astronauts experience much greater psychological stress.

During a mission to Mars, everything will be much worsethan on the ISS. According to NASA, the internal space of the ISS is about 10,000 cubic meters, which is approximately equal to the volume of the Boeing-747. The crew has where to go. But for a mission to Mars, the minimum allowable volume should be about 200 cubic meters per person. For a crew of four, these are about four trailers. Donovil hopes that due to research on the behavior of people in space, this area will increase. "If we do not make demands on engineers for people, we will get a number that we have to put up with, and I'm not sure that it will be enough for health."

Of course there are others who would like to mars and get a luxurious experience. The private space company SpaceX is dreaming of creating a more spacious ship, a starship, to deliver people to the Moon and Mars. During the presentation, SpaceX CEO Ilon Mask said that the internal volume of transport will be the same as that of the ISS. And this company is known for appreciating aesthetics and functionality in its projects, trying to make everything more pleasing to the eye. However, SpaceX faces the same isolation problem. Astronauts on the International Space Station can look out the window and see the Earth at any time, feeling connected to the house. Earth will be only a spot in the distance for those who go to Mars.

Experts ponder over it,using virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets were given to crews during the HI-SEAS imitation missions in Hawaii, where people were shown scenes from the Bavarian Alps and the beaches of Australia, which they really liked. This technology can help astronauts survive a difficult mission to Mars.

Another problem for astronauts isthat they will have to stay with the same group of people for a long period of time. Astronauts on the ISS change crews every few months so that they can work with different groups of people from time to time. Astronauts on Mars will not have this luxury. Smith believes that this lack of diversity, coupled with the lack of privacy, is also considered stress. “This is a thought experiment that we can all conduct on how to become irritable and intolerant in the presence of the same people in a short time,” says Smith. "There is a lot of evidence that we, people, need to communicate with many other people, and if we reduce these numbers, we start looking for changes in the circle of contacts."

To overcome this, perhaps engineers anddesigners will have to introduce certain smells and sounds into the cabin. “It turns out that there are certain smells that make people feel that they are surrounded by loved ones, and smells that kind of add space to you,” says Smith. In fact, at the research station of the British Antarctic Service in the Antarctic, various cedar aromas and bright colors were used to combat the eternal blue of winter. You can also add talking bots that are similar to Siri or Alexa.

So far these problems have no right solutions, butSpace ^ 2 conference could send engineers on the right track. “For us, this is a great chance to think about big and small things that we can take with us, and things that will allow us to take analog and digital signals with us,” says Smith. And although there are still many years before the mission of a man on Mars, experts suggest thinking now so that we can plan the spacecraft projects in advance. Traveling to deep space will be only one chance to do everything successfully. The loss of the crew or mission will put an end to everything.

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