How do we adapt to extremely isolated places?

Nathalie Pattyn, a Professor in biological psychology of the Free Brussels University VUB, is to examine how people (can) adapt to living in isolated places to prepare for a journey in space. Tests will take place at the British South Pole base Halley Station in a specially designed space flight simulator, the VUB announced.

The conditions in Halley Station are comparable to those linked to a long journey in space: the crew is shut off from the rest of the world and lives in a very small community and there is no sunlight - the tests will take place in the Arctic winter season. The experiment will examine whether astronauts can keep up all their skills for a 9-month period in these extreme conditions.

Scientists will also study the effects of light on the human body, or the influence of physical activities and monitor their sleeping patterns when there is a complete lack of natural light. Those joining the test will keep a video diary through which their state of mind can be followed: how do people adapt to the stress of a long journey in space? It is hoped the results can help to prepare a mission to the moon or to Mars.