- Matthew Stilley
Space Living and the Body
Updated: Apr 4
The prospect of leaving earth is one of great excitement. Often I wonder about the thrilling experience astronauts achieve when viewing the earth from space. I’ve read that there is a certain sense of global consciousness that comes with viewing the earth from a distance. I imagine it’s similar to fiddling around with a globe, but you know, a really big globe. And while much attention gets deservedly placed on spacecraft, logistics, rocket fuel and other physical equipment needed to make space travel possible, my mind often wanders to the astronauts themselves. I mean what kind of person is mentally prepared for such a feat?
I studied human development and psychology in school, softer sciences compared to most of my colleagues, and for me the mind and its ability to cope with pressure has always been a fascinating thing. The human body is accustomed to be on earth. Essentially, we are used to playing by earth’s rules. But when we step outside of that realm and into another, our bodies do some strange things. Muscle loss, bone density, balance and lack of “natural” light cycle, have been known to cause depression and anxiety. And all of these are findings from missions where Earth was always in clear view!
I’m sure there is a rigorous process for selecting individuals who could withstand being crammed into a small amount of space for such a long journey to Mars. It would be interesting to see some exercises or hear the questions they must ask.
“Have you ever been in a small space for long amounts of time?”
“Are you a night owl or an early riser?…not that it will matter much.”
“It may take time to acclimate back to earth’s atmosphere upon return, that cool?”
Those were beginning to sound like more of college roommate questionnaire, but you get the idea.
Here are 3 things that anyone daring enough to visit Mars will encounter:
Our heart, which is used to working against the force of gravity, will suddenly have an easier task due to the change in gravity on mars. However, this “deconditioning” could have adverse effects on our cardiovascular system.
Our bones, which normally bear the weight over our body + gravity also are relieved of that daily task. But this can cause bone deterioration and the calcium normally held with the bones can instead end up in our bloodstream!
Sleep if often affected during spaceflight due to many contributing factors like noise, changes in light and temperatures. This can lead to greater level of fatigue which can put missions at risk
The journey to Mars will require a special individual with buckets of intelligence, resilience and a supreme ability to cope with all the mental and physiological effects that will take place. I’m excited to hear in the years to come who that may be. Continue to follow us on our journey! Look out for Episode 2 of #25Y2M! -Matthew Stilley