In recent times many space agencies and private entities have started to work on projects and technologies that could allow humanity to reach the Red Planet in the future.
A team of researchers, among which we can count a researcher from UBCO, will go to a simulated Mars habitat located in Mauna Loa, Hawaii. They plan to develop and run a series of experiments that aim to measure the brain function of astronauts and the adverse effects of fatigue in space.
Crew time during space missions follows a strict schedule. The researchers want to create an experiment that can be performed within a short period, up to 30 minutes, but which can also offer valuable scientific data.
An Okanagan researcher will participate in a Mars simulation project
One of the essential topics that will be explored is cognitive fatigue. As the brain becomes more tired, it will tend to make bad decisions. Previous studies infer that the brain can function normally if you are a little fatigued. Still, the cumulative effect of over-fatigue can be quite as dangerous as essential cognitive functions like mood, memory recall, and decision making will be impaired.
The researchers will use an electroencephalogram to track the activity of the brain as it becomes fatigued. A consumer-grade EEG device was selected as it offers several features: it is portable, it can be carried around without issues, and it is more affordable in comparison to professional devices.
An approximate period of eight days will be spent in the Mars simulation. The project does not involve any travel into space, but the conditions will be quite similar. According to one of the participants, the site where the experiment will take place is quite remote, and there will be a 40-minutes delay on any communications. Researchers will wear a spacesuit when they have to go outside. The project will begin on November 28, and the researchers plan to post impressions on a blog.