Welcome back to the Health in Space series! In this sixth episode we will turn our attention to ‘the space within’: the human mind. This year, we celebrate that humans have lived and worked in the extreme environment of space for 20 years straight. For our series on health in space, it is time to look at the effects of this challenging endeavour on the mental health of astronauts and other professionals working in such harsh or isolated places.
Over the next decades, space missions returning to the Moon or even going further to Mars will take longer than a typical stay at the International Space Station. That will probably affect aspects of the human psyche of the astronauts on the go. But what mental effects will be of importance, when we will travel further away from Earth?
We have invited Dr. Iya Whitely and dr. Nathan Smith to join us on a tour through this exciting specialism in space health. What should we learn from the human mind before putting it under the stress of long duration space missions? What do we know from extreme environments on Earth and their habitants mental health? How do we work towards successful and healthy human space flight missions in the future?
- Dr Iya Whiteley is a Space Psychologist (ESA, UKSA and IBMP) and the Director of the Centre for Space Medicine, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London. She has 25 years of experience in space psychology, human performance and cognitive system engineering. Besides her background in clinical psychology, she has expertise in: crew selection & astronaut training, interface & cockpit design; human-robot interaction and humanoid robot design. Also, she is a pilot, skydiver, PADI Rescue Scuba Diver, and acupuncturist. Her book “TOOLKIT FOR A SPACE PSYCHOLOGIST”, was written to support astronauts in exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. Iya was expert and presenter for 6 episodes on the BBC Science show Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?
- Dr. Nathan Smith obtained a PhD from the University of Birmingham in Sport and Exercise Psychology, after which he further specialized in extreme medicine. He developed training and education on psychology in extreme environments. Furthermore, Nathan has been a research fellow at the University of Manchester studying how humans survive and thrive in extreme environments, working together closely with ESA and NASA.
Our stellar panel will discuss astronaut psychological health for current and next generation space missions and at the end of the session we will open up the floor for questions. This session will be moderated by your host Jules Lancee, health innovator on Earth.