Optical coherence tomography (OCT), which is an imaging method used to generate a picture of the back of the eye. © DLR. All rights reserved
18 October 2023
The countdown has begun: The Institut Polaire Français (IPEV), the Programma Nazionale di Ricerche in Antartidepnra (PNRA) and the European Space Agency (ESA) are preparing to send the next crew on their journey to Antarctica. Part of this crew, which will spend the Antarctic winter on the Concordia research station, has now been to the DLR research facility :envihab measurements. During their Concordia mission, they will carry out important human medical research, among other things. The pre- and post-baseline measurements will be carried out at DLR.
In December 2023, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will visit the research station in Antarctica, where he will be the first ESA astronaut to actively work on an ESA-funded project in support of future spaceflight. Part of his scientific work included scientific data collection activities at DLR's :envihab research facility on 16 October, where his Winterover2024 crewmates had also undergone the baseline data collection shortly before. The Relativity experiment examines how the neurovascular system behaves in response to isolation and confinement in an oxygen-deprived environment. The Winterbrain experiment explores the changes in performance during complex tasks, such as simulated steering of a spacecraft, and the associated neurophysiological changes in long-term isolation.
Biomarker assessment using a venous blood draw. © DLR. All rights reserved
Antarctica is one of the best reference models for space exploration on Earth. Both Antarctica and space remain an ultimate challenge for the human body and mental health due to their extreme environments. Physiological, psychological and psychosocial stressors are being studied, as well as environmental stressors such as temperature and lack of daylight. Future space crews will also consider culture, personality and gender dynamics.
How adaptable is the human being? What are the limits of human resilience? What physical and psychological risks await us in these alien places and how can we use these experiences in the future of space travel? These questions about psychological adaptation to space-like environments and dealing with monotony, isolation, confinement and life in a small international crew are being explored in the Concordia mission. The success of future missions in space depends heavily on psychological resilience, protecting us from cognitive or behavioural problems that could endanger the crew and the mission.
High-fidelity space vehicle docking simulation training, while wearing a near-infrared neuroimaging and physiological monitoring recording system. © DLR. All rights reserved