The FIGURES (Fill In the Gap in hUman REsearch in Space) long-term project aims at contributing to closing the gender data gap in human spaceflight and exploration through experiments that can be implemented in current and future analogue missions. Concretely, we aim at connecting analogue mission crews and space medicine institutes by suggesting experiments to be carried out during analogue missions, following a specific protocol of sex-disaggregating data.
The purpose of collecting sex-disaggregated data is to ensure a systematic generation of sex-specific data for human spaceflight and therefore to allow a more complete understanding of physiology and behaviour of analogue astronauts. The results of male-focused or male-dominated research should not be considered gender neutral or standard, and the results of female-focused research should not be considered a “plus” but a result of equivalent importance.
This project is primarily based on recommendations provided during the SG[France] 2020: Our Giant Leap, which took place in Toulouse last year. This one-day event gathered 70 students, young professionals and experts to discuss gender equality and diversity in the space sector. In particular, one of the round tables focused on filling the gap in female-oriented space research and what research and experiments could be done to better prepare the space society for the first human mission to Mars.
Within the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group, the FIGURES long-term project (Fill In the Gender gap in hUman REsearch in Space) was born out of this event, with the overarching objective of supporting the future human exploration of Mars and deep space. This objective translates to contributing to closing the gender data gap in human spaceflight and exploration through:
- Researching which experiments could be carried out during analogue missions in areas where data is lacking;
- Recommending the use of our sex-disaggregating data protocol as part of Standard Operating Procedure at analogue stations;
- Connecting analogue mission crews and researchers (such as space medicine institutes) for collaboration;
- Supporting all-female, mixed and diverse crews to obtain more behavioral data on different crew compositions;
- Promoting more (and new) gender-specific and female-oriented research in space and on ground;
- Writing an article providing recommendations on what technologies should be developed to sustain female exploration of deep space;
- Showcasing on social media analogue mission crews and with uncommon profiles and backgrounds.
Interested in getting involved in the FIGURES long-term project?
Discover the article “Filling the gaps in research” (p.48-51) written by Nicolas Soulard in the first edition of the Our Giant Leap Magazine: