[Exploration] Thomas Pesquet prepares for long-term expeditions in

Achieving the pilot experiment on 05/26/2021. Credits: ESA/NASA.

arrived in International Space Station (ISS) In April, Thomas Pesquet received – by means of successive cargo ships – French scientific and technological experiments. Some (exactly 7) are preparing long-term human missions to the moon And Mars, because as Our favorite astronaut explains it in a video :

You can’t afford to send people to Mars if you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. You have to prepare systems and materials. You must have data on humans in space. And all of this is happening aboard the space station, with us as guinea pigs, but also with science experiments.

Thomas Pesquet before his first EVA as part of the Alpha mission, on 06/16/2021. Credits: ESA/NASA.

March, it’s a year and a half of containment!

A simple flight over the Red Planet and/or a short stay on its surface of at least a year and a half in the context of a completely different isolation from the International Space Station. Delays in communications between Earth and Mars require more autonomy on the part of the astronauts. It takes anywhere between 3 and 23 minutes to submit a question and get an answer! ” It would be impossible to get real-time support while living on Mars. In addition, when Mars is on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth, it will also have a contact gap of about ten days. » says Jan Plovac, Program Director for Human Spaceflight Exploration.

Predict the influx of radiation associated with a sun rash

Keep shape with motivation

Thomas Pesquet replicates the immersive exercise experience at the European Astronaut Training Center (EAC), Cologne, Germany. Credits: ESA.

In space, astronauts engage in at least two hours of exercise per day to reduce the loss of muscle mass in the state of weightlessness. However, this daily physical exercise, performed in a closed and immutable environment, quickly becomes repetitive and boring. The goal of the immersive exercise experience is to break this virtual reality gym routine by “transporting” the astronaut back to Earth.

Equipped with an immersive virtual reality headset and a pair of shoes with cadence sensors, Thomas Pesquet will navigate the International Space Station while thinking about the streets of Paris, around Marseille, or in Russia in St. Petersburg… The 360° videos are played on the ground in a headset VR head and scrolling speed is synchronized with pedal speed. The astronauts’ feelings will be studied to determine their psychological impact, a key issue before long spaceflights to the Moon and Mars are considered.

Perform robotic tasks remotely

A virtual reality headset will also be used Trial experience. This neuroscience experiment aims to study hand-eye coordination and the different patterns that the brain prepares to perform an experimental task or robots in a virtual environment. It combines immersive reality (headphone) and haptic feedback with powerful feedback. ” On the Moon, one could imagine astronauts from a lunar orbiting station driving a surface-exploration or sampling vehicle. “Canton Rémy confirms.

Rémi Canton, our project manager for the Alpha mission at Cadmus (CNES). Credits: CNES/DE PRADA Thierry, 2021.

Sleep well, dream well

On the International Space Station, astronauts see the sun rise and set 16 times a day. During the trip to Mars or the Moon, this rhythm will also be shaken. However, sleep disturbances impair the ability to memorize, think and implement strategies to deal with unusual situations – which inevitably happened on Mars. Upon arrival in February 2021, the “Dreams” experience consists of 3 registration sessions over 2 nights. During these sessions (of which 2 have already been performed), Thomas Pesquet was equipped with a forehead tape with a sensor that records brain activity, from which sleep cycles/phases/quality of sleep, and an accelerometer to measure respiratory rate and movements are inferred. These recordings will be compared to reference measurements taken a few weeks before liftoff to identify sleep disturbances in space.

Fresh, long lasting products

Fresh produce currently brought in by supply vehicles arrives at the International Space Station every 3 to 4 months. However, its shelf life is not more than a week. The ‘Fresh Packaging’ trial, due to arrive in August, is set to demonstrate the effectiveness of the new permeable packaging, the peculiarity of which is to allow gas exchange to enhance the preservation of fruits and vegetables for 15 days to one month. The well-being of astronauts also depends on food.

Waste reduction

In August, Thomas Pesquet received a “consumable” box filled with gingerbread, madeleines and bread from Genoa as part of his “Foam Food” experiment.

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Verify that the edible walls have fulfilled their mission of protecting the transported material by examining the container and its contents and answering a detailed questionnaire. “ Currently, cases arriving at the International Space Station are assembled using foams made from petroleum derivatives. These gray foams are bulky and unnecessary on board the station. For the first time, we’ll try to turn transport kits into an edible payload! These foams can be used later on during future trips to the Moon or Mars, with the important interest: to improve resource and waste management during manned space missions. » Sets Rémi Canton.

Edible foam packaging kit. Credits: CNES/DE PRADA Thierry, 2020.

Move things without touching them with communication devices

Moving an object without touching it is the goal of the “acoustic clutch” of the Telemachus experiment. This clamp emits a field of ultrasound that exerts a force on objects it encounters as it propagates, creating a trap around it. This allows controlling and moving an object (small size) with very high precision. “ In microgravity, this clamp can be used to handle toxic samples or products – liquid or solid – without contact and without risk of contamination. » explains Jan Blovac.

Test the Telemachus experience on Earth. Credits: ESA, 2021.

CADMOS at the heart of operations

CADMOS is the development support center for microgravity and space operations. It is an operational center based at CNES in Toulouse. Its role is to support scientific users, to adapt their experiences to the constraints of microgravity, on the International Space Station, Airbus A310 Zero-G, etc. As part of the Alpha mission, prepare 12 French experiments that have embarked on an adventure with Thomas Pesquet.

Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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