THE ESSENTIAL

  • Space travel has a psychic and biological impact on humans.
  • Today, astronauts soar into space and spend six months in Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station (ISS), as Thomas Pesquet is preparing to do.

As Thomas Pesquet prepares to return to space, a new study has shown that astronauts experience fewer and fewer positive emotions during their mission. To arrive at these observations, a psychologist developed a new mental assessment tool (the Mental Health Checklist), which she tested on Antarctic explorers, whose working conditions resemble those of travelers from the space.

Significant stressors

Much like missionaries to Antarctica, astronauts who spend long periods in space face significant stressors such as isolation, confinement, lack of privacy, altered light-dark cycles. , monotony and separation from their family.

After nine months of observation, “the most marked alterations were observed for positive emotions, so that we saw continuous declines from start to finish of the mission, with no evidence of a” rebound effect “as participants prepared to return home. them”, report the scientists. “Previous research, both in space and in polar environments, has focused almost exclusively on negative emotional states, including anxiety and depressive symptoms. wonder are essential characteristics for thriving in high pressure environments “, he adds.

Lack of stimulation

The results of the study also show that people in extreme environments tended to use fewer effective strategies to stimulate their positive emotions as time went on.