Life on Mars
Singapore, 4th June 2010
You may wonder where I am going with the title of this blog…today I read in the newspaper that 6 men will be locked up for 520 days in isolation in a special module to simulate a space voyage to Mars and back to Earth. It is an experiment to study the psychological effects on men of a space mission to Mars. The “crew” will have to survive on limited food rations, limited opportunities to shower and all that in a very constraint space. They will only be able to communicate to the outside world through email and to simulate distances; there will be delays of up to 40 minutes in the communication. The isolation facility with an international crew is located near Moscow. Unless someone gets sick and is forced to pull out, the hatch of the module will only open again at the end of the experiment.
What intrigues me most from a lighting point of view is how they have resolved the lighting for such trip. There is obviously no daylight so the artificial lighting would have to provide all the needs we have as a human to survive. I hope they have a lighting expert involved in this experiment…We all need full spectrum daylight, so I can only assume that the artificial lighting “on board” has been developed for this purpose. I read that they will have normal 24 hour days divided in 8 hours sleep, 8 hours work and 8 hours leisure.
How is the power generation? Will they work on solar power? Will they have some training in energy management? In order to simulate daylight I would think that they would have to create day lighting levels of at least 2500 lux or more (this being the threshold level for the secretion of melatonin, our sleep hormone). Will they create varying colour temperatures during the day to simulate the progress of daylight?
Many questions….besides the human psychological aspect in general it seems an unique opportunity to study human behavior under artificial lighting specifically. Productivity, motivation, mood and wellbeing amongst others are influenced by light…I will keep an eye on this experiment and try find out more.