That Trip to Mars

NASA is planning a human trip to Mars in less than 20 years. Robotic missions to the Red Planet (orbiters, landers and rovers) have provided good data on the technological challenges and NASA has a three-phase plan that will build the skills and science that will allow a surface landing.

A still significant issue is in developing the psychological hardware that will be required of the space travelers. Research being done right now is attempting to mimic the elements of the journey that will entail a small crew being placed in a vehicle about the size of a 6 bedroom house for over 3 years. Scientists point out that it is difficult to mimic the same kinds of circumstances associated with a space mission but they are putting people in extended simulation exercises underwater in submarines and in the Artic.

Not surprisingly, the research indicates that the astronauts will need to be nice people who get along well with others, like to experience new things without taking on too much risk and, of course, have a good deal of resilience since extended space travel will have its obvious freak outs.

An important resilience strategy that has bubbled to the surface in the research would be that of humor. It seems as if having a good joke or being spontaneously funny relieves a lot of tension when life and death are just a few inches apart.

So, regardless of your age, it’s not too late to start collecting some funny stories. My friend Art sent me a really cute one this weekend about the guy who goes into a public restroom…

© Richard Citrin, All rights reserved, 2018


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