Artificial Atmosphere

On Earth, air includes approximately 20 percent oxygen, 78 percent nitrogen, and small amounts of other gasses and substances. Some comparatively short space missions have used almost pure oxygen. At the same time, others have used a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen. There is important compromise here. Astronauts will not be able to bring along enough oxygen and other gasses to satisfy their requirements on Mars. Although thin and not already proper for human life, Mars’s atmosphere has oxygen, buffer gasses including argon and nitrogen, and water. Thomas R. Meyer and Christopher P.

McKay give an account of autonomous processes that will extract and store a large quantity of oxygen from Mars’s carbon dioxide atmosphere for use by the first explorers (Meyer and McKay 343). Over the long haul, other processes could make greater the level of fit to be breathed oxygen in the Martian atmosphere itself. Temperature Environmental control has many techniques to protect astronauts from temperature extremes in space. In transit, all the crew members use the “barbecue roll” that makes a slow rotation of the craft so that portions of the spacecraft take turns becoming hot in the Sun and keeping cool in the shade.

This keeps any one from becoming overheated. For example, Skylab used a giant “awning” to protect the habitat from the direct heat of the Sun. Astronauts can also use thermal insulation that on Mars may include rocky soil stacked on top of the habitat. Crew members there may protect themselves from cold climates (and radiation) by living in habitats similar to Midwestern underground houses with sod roofs. Heating and air conditioning will be possible but more problematic to produce than on Earth. This is in part because down here people capitalize on airflow to some extent controlled by gravity.

The spacecraft has radiators in its bay; after the bay doors are opened, interior heat disperses into outer space. Crew members will be sometimes exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods of time. The work itself requires the use of great energy and effort, so heat produced by metabolic processes is added to the energy of the Sun. Space suits are specifically designed to keep the heat out and have good air conditioning. The prolonged periods of heavy labor, however, can overload space suit air-conditioning units and increase risk of high fever. Managing Stress

A proper and comprehensive mission program places special importance on prevention and seeks to minimize stress through carefully selecting and training crew members. It also designs environments to minimize stresses and encourages harmonious social relationships providing mutual moral or emotional support. An additional program must provide support for the space travelers’ families and provide good follow-up after the crew returns from Mars. Personal Coping Astronauts have to be trained to “cope, ” that is, deal with difficult stressful situations. Several strategies keep astronauts from overwhelming fear and panicky, ineffective behavior.

This is clear in Richard Lazarus’s “cognitive coping paradigm. ” (Lazarus 1994) According to their studies, people keep a watchful eye out for threats to their well-being. Human reactions to dangerous conditions are calmed by estimation of the situation. These are the cognitive or intellectual processes that people use to make an assessment of situations and their personal relevance. Primary assessment refers to deciding if a situation is actually precarious or dangerous. The defense mechanisms may include reaction formation, escaping, and displacing.

Reaction formation is when a person rejects an unpleasant feeling or emotion by stressing its opposite. The astronaut who is frightened, for instance, might hide this from himself in a display of assurance and display of courage. Escaping danger is psychological paralysis, or the refusal to act in a dangerous situation. Faced with dangerous situations, some people delay or decide that other matters are more urgent. By the time they at last get around to act in this situation, it may be too late. Displacement is redirecting negative strong feelings and emotions to a less threatening object.

Rather than having a conflict with a pilot astronaut, a mission member might get in an argument with a payload member. Although it seems better to redirect unhealthy emotions from the high-status pilot to the low-status payload astronaut, the fundamental issues remain unresolved and the payload astronaut becomes a person made to bear the blame for others. Therefore, while all of the defense mechanisms take the edge off fright, reaction formation, evasion, and displacement can cause considerable problems. Problem-centered coping strategies are intended to control the situations or events that generate threats.

Emotion-centered coping strategies are intended to control the emotional behavior in coping with the threat. Problem-centered strategies will make the situation less stressful, while emotion-centered strategies will make astronauts feel better about the conditions they cannot control (Lazarus 102). Skill training plays a critical role in managing stress in space. Understanding in an exact manner what to do in a dangerous situation makes fear smaller. In case of fire, an astronaut who has undergone many fire drills will be less terrified and more likely to act correctly than someone who has no idea what he can do.

For this reason, astronauts who are expected to do dangerous work must be very highly trained. The crew is trained to respond properly to all sorts of emergencies. Being trained means to be prepared, know what he can do to remove the threat, to make the situation safe. Skills give a sense of mastery or control that can itself help make stress less dangerous. Crew members should also receive stress inoculation training (SIT). It is based on the assumption that the best methods for coping with stress depend upon the particular characteristics of the situation and the people (Wertkin 20).

As indicated by Wertkin, this includes three phases. The first phase is process of acquiring knowledge —explaining the nature of the stress and describing what to do about it. The second phase is repetition or practice, and the third phase is the act of applying knowledge to a particular situation. Psychological Support Groups Russian scientists report success using psychological support groups (Kana). For the Russian scientists, psychological support is a continuing process that begins prior to the mission and goes on until long after the flight is over.

Psychologists should monitor the cosmonauts in flight, carefully analyze their symptoms, and find ways to help them. Ground-based analysis of voice information provides the major mechanism for examining the health welfare of the crew. The special filters are used to identify harmonics or additional meanings indicating stress, as well as examining volume and rate of speech, the sound patterns of phrases, pauses, and other hints to emotional states. Ground-based team that talks with the crew in space is taught to identify normal speech and the signs of tension from work overload, exhaustion, and emotional state.

The signs of stress are examined by subjecting tape-recorded segments of the cosmonaut’s speech to computerized voice analysis. With the help of video, the psychological support team is paying attention to the cosmonauts’ nonverbal communication, or body language. Members of the ground-based support team offer the crew on Mars a sympathetic ear and consultations. Both crew members and their families are given advice on how to deal with troubling situations. If excessive stress is observed, the support team takes corrective measures. For instance, work schedules might be reconsidered to give the crew members some time for rest and recovery.

Temporarily sad moods might be raised by piping in pleasant, dynamic music. The ground-based support team also supports morale by broadcast of news and various sounds from Earth and by arranging for the crew to talk via radio with government leaders, entertainment representatives, and other widely known figures, as well as have private conversations with their families’ members. For example, resupply vehicles that arrive at Russian space stations bring such things as videotapes and cassette recordings, mail from home, fresh foods, and other stuff.

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