In the 1980s, psychological pressure caused a rift between Soviet astronaut Valentin Lebedev and his commander. Lebedev described the details of these conflicts in his “Diary of an Astronaut”: They were living together on a Russian space station, and sometimes they did not talk for a few weeks due to unexplainable reasons, even when the other party was quiet. Everyone feels offended when they pass by. Although they all know that in space, especially in missions that last such a long time, communication is essential, and such unnecessary conflicts seem very unwise. In other words, astronauts can properly relieve stress and control their emotions is the key to successfully completing the mission.
Therefore, how to reduce the monotony of astronauts during space travel and reduce the psychological pressure they experience during long-term missions has become a hot topic for scientists.
The charm of nature
We know that natural scenery helps people to relieve stress, and many scientists have verified this statement. In a recent study, researchers from South Korea used magnetic resonance imaging technology to measure the brain activity of subjects when viewing natural and urban scenes. The results show that the urban scene activates the amygdala, which will increase the subjects’ anxiety and stress; while the natural scene makes the subjects more blood flow to the brain areas related to empathy and altruistic behavior. Help him relieve stress and handle interpersonal relationships calmly.
In addition, researchers from the University of Verona in Italy have found that being in a natural environment can help people improve cognitive function, lower blood pressure, and regulate mood, so that they can complete predetermined tasks more effectively.
Floating in the virtual world
Jie Biqi, a former American astronaut, is now a professor of space medicine and physiology at Dartmouth College. As an astronaut, every space mission performed by Bi Qi lasted about three weeks, so he did not experience the unimaginable monotony like Scott Kelly. Although his space journey was not so unpleasant, he still felt the need to make some improvements. Now, Bi Qi and his colleagues are trying to use virtual reality helmets to show subjects some peaceful and peaceful scenes in nature to create a comfortable atmosphere to see if this can reduce their psychological stress level.
Bi Qi and his team created two wonderful experiences in nature for the subjects: one is to visit the lush green hills of Ireland, and the other is to lie down on the beach in Australia and enjoy the wonderful sea view. Of course, these subjects were actually just sitting in the classroom wearing virtual reality helmets and didn’t go anywhere. In order to increase the authenticity of the scene, they also placed heat lamps next to the subjects watching the seascape to make them feel that they were really taking a warm sun bath. The researchers measured these subjects’ heart rate and electrical skin response (skin resistance or conductance changes with the function of the skin sweat glands) to analyze their respective psychological stress values at this time.
Special needs of astronauts
So far, although the preliminary results of this experiment are very encouraging, these are highly personalized responses and are heavily influenced by subjective consciousness. Furthermore, for ordinary people, natural scenes are indeed more conducive to eliminating tension and reducing stress, but for an astronaut who has lived alone in a closed environment for a long time, natural scenes may not help eliminate them. His loneliness and nervousness, maybe what he would like to see more is the lively scene in the city.
To this end, Bi Qi’s research team is doing different experiments, and constantly optimizing these virtual scenes and technologies, so that they appear in front of the subjects in the most realistic state, so as to find out what the subjects are most interested in. , In order to further help future astronauts and other people working in isolation to cope with stress calmly.