ESA, IPEV and PNRA are soliciting for biomedical experiments to be implemented at the Concordia station on Antarctica
Exploratory missions to the Moon and Mars, including the establishment of a permanently crewed base on the lunar surface, will add an entirely new dimension to human spaceflight. Factors that we will need to be prepared for include: the distance of travel and subsequent remoteness of the crew, the radiation environment, the gravity levels, the duration and mission scenario, and the level of confinement and isolation to which the crews will be exposed.
For a human long-duration exploration mission, psychological and physiological challenges that will be faced, will surpass anything humans have ever undertaken before. These challenges will stem from a combination of: long distances of travel, the prolonged and unavoidable dependence on automated life-support systems, the high degree of isolation and confinement, and the lack of short-term rescue possibilities in case of emergencies. This will raise the importance of addressing several health issues, including physiological and psychological issues affecting individual and crew performance and well-being. These are assumed to become possible limiting factors to human adaptability during these missions and therefore need to be efficiently prevented, mitigated and counteracted.
Isolation and confinement studies play an important role in the preparation of human long-duration space missions. They provide unique possibilities for the characterization of psychological and physiological reactions to isolation and confinement; the development of methods to cope with mission-endangering issues (such as interpersonal conflicts, sensory and social deprivation, and decrease in crew performance); and the extension of research into other scientific fields like medicine and life support.
Living in extreme isolation is a great opportunity for the study of human adaptation from a psychological and physiological point of view. Space research has been conducted in the polar regions for years – offering conditions on Earth similar to long-term space travel.
Concordia Station is a jointly operated French-Italian station owned and funded by the French and Italian National Antarctic Programmes, IPEV and PNRA respectively. Since 2005, IPEV, PNRA and ESA work together to make use of one of the most isolated Antarctic research infrastructures, Concordia station, for the implementation of biomedical and psychological research experiments. Concordia station is considered to be one of the highest Earth-based analogues for long duration deep space missions. Such research is also fundamental to improving the well-being and health of the men and women who choose to undertake the challenge of working in polar regions. Of importance is also to bring real Earth benefits to polar staff by using the results of these experiments to maintain and improve the work and living environments of individuals working in Antarctica.
For more information and to submit your idea, please visit https://ideas.esa.int/servlet/hype/IMT?documentTableId=45087631481083483&userAction=Browse&templateName=&documentId=99e6c808e1cfe0764405220bdca3f203
More information on the Concordia station can be found on http://www.esa.int/concordia, as well as on the Italian and French Antarctic national programmes websites (www.pnra.aq, www.italiantartide.it, www.ipev.fr).