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A Solution To The Problem Of Isolation Of Astronauts In The Mars Exploration Program

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Introduction and Situation

Few years back the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well as other programs such as Mars one and space x, started a space exploration crusade with a purpose to expand the presence of humankind further into the solar system and specifically on Mars. In NASA’s journey to Mars (2015), NASA argues that if a triumph, this mission will be a basis of an even deeper exploration. Since NASA’s objective is not to attain a single destination, astronauts on Mars as well as their explorer robots will strive to better comprehend the potential of life beyond earth and to find a habitable place where humans can work, learn, operate, and prosper afar from Earth within an enlarged scope of time. Some of the most inventive and bright people of our era such as Buzz Aldrin, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Bill Nye, and Neil de Grasse Tyson claim that establishing a lasting colony of humans on Mars is not an option, that it is a necessity. As the global population is not just growing, it is peaking and we are constantly depleting our planet’s resource so, as Hawking S. (2008) warns, if humanity is to perpetuate for more centuries to come, we will have to go to an unexplored planet. This crusade started several years ago where numerous scientists gathered to tackle this problem and invested massive labor and intellectual efforts, not to mention billions of dollars. In Space Shuttle Era Facts (2011) NASA states that it has used 113.7 billion US dollars in the shuttle program alone. What a disaster it would be if something were to ruin this; years of restless work, tireless days and nights of taxpayers. Humankind left in peril. Amongst other constraints that are likely to ruin this mission let’s highlight a psychological one; Isolation of astronauts. Success demands deciphering this issue, unraveling it, and understanding it from its very roots, as we are only and only able to solve this problem by primarily understanding it. Generally, isolation is a state of being separated from other people. Admin L. (2012) states that Isolation can be used and manipulated for various purposes. Medical facilities utilize it to keep patients from transmitting or catching illnesses. Educational institutions such as schools and parents apply it in the type of time-out or to penalize misconduct. In correctional facilities such prisons and juvies, it means to detach the incarcerated from others for the sake of safety or punishment. In psychology, Isolation is adapted to depict a condition that pushes an individual to draw away from other people especially the intimate ones and the outside world. Voluntary detachment from social relations can also be a sign of mental health issues such as depression. Humans are sociable beings that do not do well when isolated from other people.

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While short-term isolation can serve as an effective punishment, extended isolation, such as solitary confinement may result into serious mental health issues. Though outcomes of isolation here on earth can be severe, it is likely to be more catastrophic in space due to not only being isolated but also billions of miles away from earth. This essay aims to accentuate and analyze the isolation problem in the space exploration crusade specifically, the journey to Mars and to employ the essay’s findings to craft a suitable solution to this imminent barricade to the exploration of Mars. Problem Humans live, work, and play in groups, and to be apart from our groups may confuse us, debilitate us, and even make us doubt our place in the world. Isolation is usually mistaken for other kinds of aloneness such as loneliness and alienation, but being isolated demands that one be separated from others by reasons past one’s control. Isolation produces destructive impacts for several individuals. On the other hand, the condition can move others toward incredible creativity and innovation as a result of having been pushed to depend solely on themselves as a source of sense. Obviously, not all who feel isolated are actually alone, and not all who are alone are isolated. In an essay on isolation in literature, Conliffe M. (1999) points out that the condition damages an individual having once been part of a group. Humans, if genuinely isolated from others, major psychological consequences may result. Storr A. (1988) noted that these interactions need not be intimate or close ones, but that they must be there: Whether or not they are enjoying close relationships, humans need a sense of being part of a larger society than that comprised of a family. Kipling W. (2007) asserts that the need to belong is basic and that the lack of affiliation with others yields a host of negative psychological impacts such as depression, anxiety, stress, and physical and mental illness. Being isolated from others, Williams goes on to argue, can also alter other basic needs, such as self-esteem, the need to feel in command of one’s life, and the need for a purposive life. Induced or not, Isolation can be as a window into which our lives did not exist. When there is no one to notice us, talk to us, see us or relate to us in any manner, it is as if we are non-existent, for there is no one to spark our lively hood. James W. (1890), in his game-changing Principles of Psychology says that there is not a more nefarious punishment, like imposing physical pain, than cutting someone loose in a society in which they walk unnoticed by everyone thereof to be isolated, or “cut dead” as James puts it, is one of the most as cruel as vicious weapons humans holds against one another and the foundation of our world’s most popular punitive action: incarceration. When isolation is forced, its victims may experience extreme suffering and stress. While isolation often results in effects that dehumanize people, if attacked properly, positive changes may also occur from extended isolation. Storr A. (1988) argues that the ability to be alone is a precious tool when variations of one’s mental attitude are demanded.

Performing astronautic responsibilities, like operating highly effective robotic emissaries in orbit and on the surface of Mars, enduring Long-duration human missions, where some of the missions are up to 1,100 days in microgravity, with the risks of bone loss, atrophy, trauma, neuro vestibular issues, loss of clear vision, being capable to come up with ingenious improvisations for the sake of fellow crew members safety, necessitates the ability to think and behave in a more than normal and rational manner. The sanity of astronauts is one of the most salient factors to the success of this mission. As stated before, the isolation issue has numerous negative psychological impacts, those including depression, anxiety, stress, physical and mental illnesses. Broadening the mental illnesses issue, sometimes as a result of solitude, the brain starts to create its own universe, or else known as hallucinations, where someone starts to view and live scenarios that are not happening at least not in reality but as it can be deduced if an astronaut is living a fairy tale where for example she is still in the simulation program on earth and hours maybe minutes ahead she gets to go home, join her family, have a proper meal and sleep meanwhile back to actual reality the ship is landing, it can only be imagined what follows. Aside from crew members’ lives, if unresolved isolation can lead to the loss of several billions of dollars and taking into account Stephen Hawking’s and fellow scientists’ arguments if not solved this problem could help terminate the human race. Solutions and evaluation Though most psychological illnesses are still not accurately understood, neither are they absolute mysteries. Numerous approaches have been developed and found to be somehow effective. Though it’s not yet adaptable to a vast range of psychological issues, the use of drugs (pharmacotherapy) could be employed to help in some cases such as anxiety and illusions and other derivatives of isolation such as stress and hallucinations. Isolation is a result of detachment from one’s society or community and routines. Well, another solution is to set up a schedule to have face to face talks between the astronauts and their families and friends that way they won’t feel really detached as they stayed in touch and are continuously getting updates of what’s going on earth. In addition to this, astronauts would be supplied with updated magazines and news, hence feeling part of something bigger than themselves. Besides medicines, communication and, media, space exploration programs on earth could train large crews and make sure that spend enough time together while in simulation programs. This would aid develop a bond while still on earth and become friends in addition to this add one or two professional and specialized psychologists on the crew. Encourage the crew to stick to its routines such as yoga, reading, singing and more. by applying this method, the crew members would feel safe and sound, as they would be around people that they really know and are friends and in case there is a crisis, the psychologists would come in handy.

Moreover, the crew members could start writing journals, which is an already verified method where astronauts on the International space station (ISS) reported that they immensely benefited from recording in their journals, as it helped them to stay focused on their work and interactions with others and Stuster J. (2012) principal investigator in his final report affirms this. It was apparent from the daily entries analyzed that the environment on board the ISS was bearable, but also not enough to sustain an admirable performance for long periods time of operations. Crews admirably worked, and the journals contained numerous positive testimonies about living and the working environment; however, the tone of some journals depicted problems and demonstrated periods of irritation and chagrin. Though the first solution might be affordable and easy to employ it is very ineffective, where some issues do not yet have drugs to handle them and besides members might be very deranged to even remember or be able to take the drugs. Moreover, Putcha L. (2009) claims that once in space drugs lose their potency due elevated levels of radiations. If applied this method could be more effective because everything could still seem to be same where astronauts could still talk to their families, watch movies and games and even check their emails. Though effective, the second solution is superstitious and fictional as according to Ormston T. (2012) states that it takes at least 13 minutes 48 seconds to transmit a signal between earth and Mars. In addition, several things happen in the world, and not of them are not that pretty to see and these horrific dreadful acts might boost the stress and depression themselves. Now for the last option, which also happens to be my preferred solution, utilizes very effective techniques such as creating an almost resembling environment in space as it was on Earth. It also employs the very best technique currently being applied on a global level to treat psychological disorders, which is psychotherapy (having conversation sessions with a psychologist) and sometimes if required they recommend some drugs. Moreover, it adopts the journal writing technique which has already proven to be excellent not in simulations but in a real space environment. Conclusion This essay aimed to highlight and analyze the problem of isolation in the Mars exploration program and to employ the findings of the essay to craft a suitable solution to this imminent threat to the exploration of Mars. After a thorough research and analysis, the following solution has been selected as the preferred one. Providing an active environment where each member of the crew gets to vigorously participate in addition to a sustained direct involvement of professional psychologists as well as journal recording by the crew. This solution is a long-term process so, it will require Persistence, investing enormous effort and brilliantly attacking this problem as it is one the stiffest pace limiting variables in the crusade of enlarging the presence of humans into the solar system. The adoption of this method can lead to astronauts experiencing extraordinary creativity and innovation because of having been pushed to depend exclusively on themselves as a source of sense.

Works Cited

  1. Conliffe, M. (1999). Isolation and Russian Short Fiction. Toronto: University of Toronto. hawking, S. (2017, December 14). youtube. Retrieved from youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FaTBd3gdPI
  2. Lakshmi Putcha, P. (2017, December 12). Stability of Pharmacotherapeutic. Retrieved from NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/925.html
  3. Lite, A. (2012, August 20). Literary Isolation. Retrieved from Literacle: https://literacle.com/literary-isolation/
  4. NASA. (2015). NASA’s journey to Mars. NASA. NASA. (2017, December 14). NASA. Retrieved from NASA-space shuttle facts and statistics: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/launch/shuttlefacts-toc.html
  5. Ormston, T. (2012, August 05). The Time delay between Mars and Earth. Retrieved from Mars express: http://blogs.esa.int/mex/2012/08/05/time-delay-between-mars-and-earth/
  6. Storr, A. (1988). Solitude. London: Free Press; Reissue edition. williams, J. (1890). the principles of psychology. New York: New York: Holt. Williams, K. D. (2007). Ostracism. New York: Routledge; 1 edition.
01 February 2021

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