Psychological and biological challenges of the Mars mission viewed through the construct of the evolution of fundamental human needs

Konrad Szocik, Steven Abood, Mark J Shelhamer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The environment of a deep-space Mars mission represents a genetic, epigenetic, and psychological mismatch to the terrestrial environment in which humans evolved. Potential psychological and biological challenges of this mismatch have been gleaned from simulations in space-analog facilities, polar expeditions, and missions served on the International Space Station. Optimal performance and welfare of crew members will depend on successful adaptation to these challenges, which in turn depends on the satisfaction of fundamental human needs. These fundamental human needs – drawn from Maslow's hierarchy of needs – include physiological, security, relationship, and existential needs. The satisfaction of each need over the course of a protracted space mission will require the crew to overcome novel psychobiological obstacles for which they must be prepared. Of particular concern will be the rigors of an isolated environment out of sight from the travelers’ terrestrial home, leading to stress-induced depression of the immune system and potential psychological pathologies. A rationally designed mission environment that utilizes technology and measures such as biophilia to optimize the fulfillment of each human need could bolster the psychobiological resilience necessary for a successful odyssey.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-799
Number of pages7
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume152
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018

Keywords

  • Biological challenges
  • Human needs
  • Mission to Mars
  • Psychological challenges

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering

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