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'Good chance' first Mars settlers will die

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Cosmic Horror

A Mars trip will be hell for anyone undertaking it.  Aside from the physical consequences of long term space travel, and the low gravity environment, as well as the little understood long term exposure to cosmic radiation, the mental health impacts would be phenomenal.

I mean, forget all the challenges astronauts face on the ISS, that is a walk in the park.  Picture it, you spend the moment you board the habitation module on the launch vehicle cooped up with no more than a few square metres of room to move around, you spend a good portion of a year in this environment, but after this all good right, you land on Mars, you have Gravity and a whole planet to explore?

Hell no, you step off the cramped lander into more cramped space, which will be your home for the next.... Year?  Then another months long journey home in more tiny metal bubbles.

While you are doing this, you do it in the knowledge that if anything goes wrong there’s no help coming, no hospitals with well equipped emergency rooms.

Your average person cannot even self isolate for a month without going coo coo you’d have to be pretty resilient to come out of all that intact.

The first landing on Mars will be in the name of science.

The second will be to retrieve bodies of the former and return them to the families, probably in the name of religion. 

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Cookie Monster
33 minutes ago, Cosmic Horror said:

A Mars trip will be hell for anyone undertaking it.  Aside from the physical consequences of long term space travel, and the low gravity environment, as well as the little understood long term exposure to cosmic radiation, the mental health impacts would be phenomenal.

I mean, forget all the challenges astronauts face on the ISS, that is a walk in the park.  Picture it, you spend the moment you board the habitation module on the launch vehicle cooped up with no more than a few square metres of room to move around, you spend a good portion of a year in this environment, but after this all good right, you land on Mars, you have Gravity and a whole planet to explore?

Hell no, you step off the cramped lander into more cramped space, which will be your home for the next.... Year?  Then another months long journey home in more tiny metal bubbles.

While you are doing this, you do it in the knowledge that if anything goes wrong there’s no help coming, no hospitals with well equipped emergency rooms.

Your average person cannot even self isolate for a month without going coo coo you’d have to be pretty resilient to come out of all that intact.

The first landing on Mars will be in the name of science.

The second will be to retrieve bodies of the former and return them to the families, probably in the name of religion. 

I dont think any of those problems will arise.

The main issue will be the unknown. It wont be until colonists get there that they will learn if they have been given everything they actually need. Its the unforeseen which is the threat.

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Waspie_Dwarf
3 hours ago, Cosmic Horror said:

the mental health impacts would be phenomenal. 

Really?

Why would the mental impacts be greater than those experienced by the crew of the International Space Station? Why would they be greater than those experienced by the crew of a nuclear submarine? Why would they be greater than those experienced by scientists overwintering on an Antarctic research station?

I'll answer that question for you... they won't be. 

The crew of a mission to Mars will experience exactly the same types of mental impacts that explorers and sailors have been experiencing for centuries.

Magellan's circumnavigation of the Earth, for example, took 3 years, considerably longer than the flight time to Mars. The ships were packed and tiny, deaths were frequent. There was no modern communications and so no contact with family. There was no understanding of psychological well being, and yet the crew didn't go nuts.

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Cookie Monster
21 minutes ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

Really?

Why would the mental impacts be greater than those experienced by the crew of the International Space Station? Why would they be greater than those experienced by the crew of a nuclear submarine? Why would they be greater than those experienced by scientists overwintering on an Antarctic research station?

I'll answer that question for you... they won't be. 

The crew of a mission to Mars will experience exactly the same types of mental impacts that explorers and sailors have been experiencing for centuries.

Magellan's circumnavigation of the Earth, for example, took 3 years, considerably longer than the flight time to Mars. The ships were packed and tiny, deaths were frequent. There was no modern communications and so no contact with family. There was no understanding of psychological well being, and yet the crew didn't go nuts.

You are right, but I guess there would be some that would struggle mentally with a restricted life far from home. But NASA will check they are the right kind of people for Mars before sending them, just like it does with current astronauts.

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Cosmic Horror
1 hour ago, Waspie_Dwarf said:

Really?

Why would the mental impacts be greater than those experienced by the crew of the International Space Station? Why would they be greater than those experienced by the crew of a nuclear submarine? Why would they be greater than those experienced by scientists overwintering on an Antarctic research station?

I'll answer that question for you... they won't be. 

The crew of a mission to Mars will experience exactly the same types of mental impacts that explorers and sailors have been experiencing for centuries.

Magellan's circumnavigation of the Earth, for example, took 3 years, considerably longer than the flight time to Mars. The ships were packed and tiny, deaths were frequent. There was no modern communications and so no contact with family. There was no understanding of psychological well being, and yet the crew didn't go nuts.

I beg to differ.  Certainly the closest analogy would be the ISS.  Firstly though the ISS is established, and despite being in orbit if something goes wrong rescue is possible, communications are instantaneous and there is always a docked Soyuz for emergency evac.

Submarine is a good analogy, but If a submarine runs into trouble they can surface, return to safe port, be rescued, and they always know which way is down and have plenty of shielding from cosmic rays etc and crews will rotate periodically.

I can’t really speak for the mental health of the Magellan expedition, clearly there were issues, but I’m not sure a valid comparison can be made, aside from the obvious things like being able to breath with a blue sky above you, and the exterior not consistently trying to kill you,  Magellan had a fleet with hundreds of people.  The journey killed him however, so if that’s a valid comparison, it doesn’t bode well.
 

My opinion is that along with all the pressures the ISS crew may face, or the crew of a submarine, there are unique additional pressures, no hope of rescue, little chance of aborting the mission, communication delays, limited access to spare parts in the event of mechanical or electrical failure, no way to restock food or water supplies in the event that stocks are compromised.  One mistake could lead to catastrophe, and when you reach your destination, you are still confined to a pressurised container, where the exterior environment is as deadly as space.  Not to mention having the eyes of the world watching constantly and being a first experience.

I think it would be safe to say no human beings in the history of the world will have faced such unique, prolonged and complex peril.  That’s not to diminish the pressures faced by other people both in space and on Earth.

My point is, the journey will be one of the most difficult undertakings any Humans have endured.  I hope any such missions will be successful, but the crew will have to be seriously resilient individuals, and they better get on with each other.

 

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DieChecker

i think Cosmic Horror is probably thinking of a modern teenage, tweenager, who "need" their phone 24/7/365. And to whom running out of soda is an unbearable thought. Not thinking of a well screened, well trained volunteer, who wants to go.

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DieChecker

Just to comment on a few things...

8 hours ago, Cosmic Horror said:

...as well as the little understood long term exposure to cosmic radiation...

From what I've read, cosmic radiation shouldn't really be as much a problem as one might think.

I believe all that is needed is a few inches of a base metal, less than an inch of a heavy metal, or several inches of water, or ice,  to shield the travelers, and they will be fine.

Id imagine we're not sending people to Mars in the equivalent of a Moon lander. Theyll have lots of shielding, even if it is mainly just water. 

Quote

...you spend the moment you board the habitation module on the launch vehicle cooped up with no more than a few square metres of room to move around, 

Except the people going arent random. They are hand picked for health, mental traits, and such. And then heavily trained. 

 

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Cosmic Horror
13 minutes ago, DieChecker said:

Just to comment on a few things...

From what I've read, cosmic radiation shouldn't really be as much a problem as one might think.

I believe all that is needed is a few inches of a base metal, less than an inch of a heavy metal, or several inches of water, or ice,  to shield the travelers, and they will be fine.

Id imagine we're not sending people to Mars in the equivalent of a Moon lander. Theyll have lots of shielding, even if it is mainly just water. 

Except the people going arent random. They are hand picked for health, mental traits, and such. And then heavily trained. 

 

All true.  But the radiation effects aren’t very well understood.

All I am saying is it ain’t going to be a cakewalk and on a mission where there is no backup, very little redundancy things can spiral.

But even in failure these brave individuals will be paving the way.

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DieChecker
1 hour ago, Cosmic Horror said:

All true.  But the radiation effects aren’t very well understood.

All I am saying is it ain’t going to be a cakewalk and on a mission where there is no backup, very little redundancy things can spiral.

But even in failure these brave individuals will be paving the way.

Agreed. Not a cakewalk. But not a death sentence either.

I think theyll build as much redundant safety in as they can. Weight/size will be an issue in the design of the craft, but its going to have to be huge, and built in orbit, anyway. What is another 2000 pounds of lead when youve already lifted 500 tons into orbit. 

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kartikg

We are probably a century away from building anything on Mars, by that time hopefully material science and other related technologies would be progressed so far that would make possible for humans to survive. A better approach would be to drop shipments upon shipment of raw materials on Mars assuming that the launch window is every 3 year, there would be around 33 packages dropped during 100 years, initially we should not drop anything high tech because it could be superceded, dropping off construction materials, survival rations etc, then followed by return fuel, water scientific equipments,if possible robots which can make use of the materials and start habitat construction. 

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bigjonalien

But will they procreate? Live long and prosper!

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Humbled Hypocrite83

I'm not sure why everyone is so surprised. 

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Jon the frog

The first french settler in north east Canada had a big deal on surviving too...most of them got scurvy and a bunch died of it... Imagining Mars colonisation without the risk of death is a bit childish.

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tmcom

True, Musk would have to land in an area that is as desolate as he could find, as NASA would most likely be a co-,...umm, joint adventurist, and matisulasory plan out video streams and images, so Earth gets what they want to get.

No doubt that technical difficulties would increase as the solar panels are cleaned by electrostatically charged dust devils, or never mind!

:ph34r:

Edited by tmcom

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