Lengthy Mars journey could hamper sleep cycles
Mars travelers may want to pack extra jammies, a study suggests, finding sleepiness and insomnia dogging astronauts in a space travel simulation of a 520-day trip to the Red Planet.
The sleep study results released on Monday looked at the six volunteers on the Mars 500 project, concluded in November. The cooperative effort by the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems and the European Space Agency “sent” six young men on a simulated round-trip to Mars conducted within trailer-sized isolation chambers. Aside from a brief visit to a simulated Mars landing site, they remained inside the chambers for the entire time, performing jobs similar to ones needed on a trip to Mars.
“A Mars mission trip will involve much longer periods of time in a spacecraft than anyone has experienced,” said study author David Dinges of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Only four people have lived more than a year in space. The record, 437 days on Russia's Mir space station, was set by cosmonaut Valery Polyakov.
In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science study, an international research team continuously tracked the movement, sleep and exposure to light of the Mars 500 volunteers during the simulation.
They were tested weekly on how well they performed brain puzzles.
“We were surprised to find a lot of torpor as the mission went on,” Dinges said. “They moved less, and they slept more.”
American astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will spend a solid year aboard the International Space Station, twice as long as the usual stint, in 2015 as part of related efforts to prepare astronauts for long-distance space travel that space agencies hope to undertake in the next decade.
A trip to Mars will probably take longer and involve communication cutoffs and delays, as well as radiation threats, even more trying than life aboard the International Space Station, Dinges said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- In 2005, Cosby said he got drugs to give women for sex
- Texas wants its gold back in the state’s borders
- Heavy storms blast Kansas City area
- Chicago father won’t cooperate with police in shooting death of boy, 7
- Senante begins new debate on federal role for schools
- Disguise aids $75K robbery of Oklahoma Wal-Mart store
- Wild Walk gives treetop view of New York forest
- Idaho wildfire destroys homes, prompts hundreds to evacuate
- Killing by illegal immigrant blamed on S.F. ‘sanctuary’ policies
- New Horizons flyby of Pluto on track despite computer glitch
- Chesapeake Bay pollution plan approved