The biggest factor determining the success of a future Mars mission may not reside in how well we deal with radiation, gravity or even energy.
Since the first Martian crews will probably be unable to bring either their families, pets or farm animals along, the key to success may reside in the crew structure itself.
(Astrobiology Magazine) Despite the legacy of the Russian experiment, the Mars Society, a non-profit educational and scientific organization headed by Robert Zubrin, conducted its own test to see how people behave during a simulated space mission. From April to August 2007, a science crew of seven camped out at the "Flashline" Mars Arctic Research Station (F-MARS) on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic.
The total time spent in Mars simulation was 101 days. All went extremely well, according to Kim Binsted, Melissa Battler, and Kathryn Bywaters, three of the participants. In addition to living in close confinement, they conducted research in the field, donning space suits for each expedition outdoors, just as a real Mars crew would.
Battler, now a PhD student at the University of Western Ontario, was the group commander. She says the team – which was composed of four men and three women -- consulted with each other in a cooperative style, rather than following a strict military-style hierarchy of command.
This cooperative approach may be a wiser alternative than the command style, as team members may feel that they each have equal input into the success of the mission, instead of feeling like an worker drone, whose only purpose is to carry out the commands of the leadership.
Note: Either way, it may be wise to consider bringing Fido along, in order to help keep the future Martians from getting home sick.
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