A NASA researcher is participating in an international
isolation study hosted by the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of
Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in an effort to learn more about how to best
predict, assess and solve problems that humans encounter while living and
working in space for long periods so that they can be applied to future
missions to the Moon and Mars.
Two Americans and four Russians stepped through the hatch of
the Ground-based Experimental Complex, or by its Russian name Nazemnyy
eksperimental'nyy kompleks (NEK),
on March 19 at the IBMP in Moscow.
The SIRIUS 18/19 crew poses
with representatives from the United States, Russia, NASA and IBMP at the
American Embassy. Image courtesy of the American Embassy.
The four-month NEK Scientific
International Research in Unique terrestrial Station (SIRIUS)-18/19 test
is the second analog mission in a series of
four that study the effects of isolation and confinement on human psychology,
physiology and team dynamics to help prepare astronauts for long-duration space
exploration. For astronauts traveling to the Moon and Mars, isolation and
confinement are among the key hazards to overcome.
NASA’s Allen Mirkadyrov of the Goddard Spaceflight Center joined
fellow American Reinhold Povilaitis and Russians Anastasia Stepanova, Stefania
Fedyai, Daria Alekseevna Zhidova and Evgeny Igorevich Tarelkin. Mirkadyrov left
his normal job as the Telecommunication Networks and Technology Associate branch
head to join this team.
NASA’s Human Research
Program, dedicated to protecting astronauts’ health and performance, is
responsible for NASA research conducted during analogs. Research missions such
as SIRIUS serve as model platforms for studying not only isolation and
behavioral health and performance, but also simulate training for such
missions. NASA uses other analogs,
such as the Aquarius undersea habitat for NASA Extreme Environment Mission
Operations off the coast of Key Largo, Florida, the Human Exploration Research
Analog at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and various Antarctica
missions for this purpose as well.
Future missions in the SIRIUS series, occurring in 2020 and
2021, will be longer in duration (eight months and one year, respectively), and
these scenarios include travel to and orbit of the Moon. These simulations will
aid researchers in developing plans and protocols for deep spaceflight.
The SIRIUS missions will also allow researchers to study the
effects of isolation and confinement on human physiology and psychology to
better develop countermeasures for any negative health impacts.
Research findings from the SIRIUS missions will be assessed
to determine how they contribute to the evidence base to assist NASA in
understanding effective crew composition for future Mars mission.
To learn about the Human Research Program, go to: www.nasa.gov/hrp