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Sleeping on Mars: A Hidden Challenge for Human Space Exploration
August 14th, 2017 7:30pm
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Cosmic Musings Lecture Series Presented by United Airlines



Sleep is necessary for human cognitive function. Sleep loss and misalignment of the circadian rhythm leads to impaired cognitive performance, depressed mood, and short and long term health consequences. During long duration spaceflight, such as on a mission to Mars, it will be important that astronauts obtain enough sleep to maintain vigilance throughout the mission. Astronauts face many challenges related to living and sleeping in space. On the space station, astronauts obtain less sleep than on Earth and spend about 20% of their time in a jet-lagged state, despite being scheduled for an eight-hour sleep episode each night. Living on Mars will likely cause additional sleep disruption, because the Mars rotation is 24 hours and 39 minutes long. This means that individuals living on Mars will face perpetual jet lag in the absence of adequate countermeasures. This presentation will cover the challenges associated with living, working and sleeping in space and the research that is being conducted to mitigate such challenges.


LEFT: Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, Research Psychologist at NASA Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory. Credit: NASA | RIGHT: An artist's rendering of the Mars Ice Home concept. Credits: NASA/Clouds AO/SEArch | HEADER IMAGE: Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata is photographed in a sleeping bag attached to the racks in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station. Credit: NASA


DR. ERIN FLYNN-EVANS leads the NASA Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory. She holds a PhD from the University of Surrey (UK) and an MPH from Harvard School of Public Health. Prior to joining NASA, she was an Instructor in Medicine in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Flynn-Evans has extensive research experience examining the short and long term effects of sleep loss and circadian desynchrony in occupational settings, including among astronauts, airline pilots, physicians and other shift workers. Her laboratory-based research focuses on examining the effects of light on circadian, neuroendocrine, and neurobehavioral responses in humans and how these outcomes relate to the development of countermeasures for shift work. Her field research has involved integrating these measures of fatigue and associated countermeasures into complex operational settings.



Reservations are required. In the case of sold out shows, any tickets not picked up by 7:40 p.m. will be made available to wait-listed guests. No refunds are available.
RSVP deadline is AUGUST 14, 4:00 p.m.


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