A lot of research is being done on the psychological and physiological effects of absolute isolation – such as interplanetary missions. Russian researchers revealed the findings of one of the largest tests in this field.
Two tests were conducted in 2017 and 2019 as part of the project “Scientific international research of a unique ground station” (SIRIUS) of the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Russia).
The first lasted 17 days, while the second lasted 120. Representatives from many countries and cultures, as well as both genders, took part in them, and the results were published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology yesterday.
The research is dedicated to the investigation of the impact of isolation on a person’s psychological and physiological processes. The purpose is to get ready for trips to other planets, particularly Mars.
“In general, the crews of such missions minimize communication with the Control Center, sharing their requirements and issues less and less,” said Dmitry Shved, one of the study’s authors.
“Increased touch was found at critical occasions such as simulated landing.”
Conversations, as well as facial expressions and acoustic properties of speech, were recorded to track behavioral changes (intensity, frequency and variability).
320 audio recordings of conversations spanning around 11 hours were made throughout the first ten days of the 2019 mission. However, in the previous ten days, the number of calls has fallen to 34, and their duration has decreased to 77 minutes.
On the 11th day of the experiment, the researchers simulated an artificial delay in communication with Earth, akin to what inhabitants on the Moon or Mars might face.
Surprisingly, investigators observed disparities in communication between the men and women participating in the experiment under these conditions. Anger and sadness were noticed to a higher extent in the former, whereas joy and sadness were observed to a lesser level in the latter. These disparities, however, were smoothed out by the end of the experiment.
Scientists observed, in general, an increasing autonomy from the Mission Control Center on Earth for all crew members, as well as their strong cohesion with one another by the end of the experiment: people got close, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or cultural differences.
This appears to be promising for future interplanetary expeditions, according to the experts. The final stage of the experiment began last week, on November 4th, and the results will be added to this graphic later.