April 20, 2024

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Sunday Reading: “Can Humans Withstand the Psychological Torment of Mars?”

Sunday Reading: “Can Humans Withstand the Psychological Torment of Mars?”

Adrian Hirst And

Corey Shribble And

The idea that people will travel to Mars, soon, is a widely accepted belief within NASA. Rachel McCauley, until recently NASA's deputy Mars campaign administrator, had a list of 800 problems to solve before launching the first human mission. Much of it has to do with the mechanical difficulties of transporting humans to a planet only 33.9 million miles away. Surviving on toxic soil in unbreathable air, they are bombarded by solar radiation and galactic cosmic rays, with no access to instant communications; They were returned safely to Earth after more than a year and a half. But McCauley has no doubt that NASA will overcome these challenges. What NASA doesn't know yet – and what no one can know – is whether humanity will be able to overcome the psychological torment of Martian life.

The mission known as CHAPEA, an experiment in which four ordinary people reenact the lives of Mars colonists for 378 days, as closely as possible, sets out to answer that question.

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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Isabella Anderson, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Elena Hecht, Emma Kilbeck, Tanya Perez and Krish Sinvasan.

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