A Place Called Space
Day 19

Supported by Wellcome Trust

Stress in space

A video looking at an innovative project using speech analysis to gauge how stressed astronauts really are.

Being an astronaut is a stressful job. You face the constant threat of annihilation, and know that a huge team and expensive mission rely on you doing your job well. 

But astronauts aren’t always the best at identifying, or admitting, when they’re stressed or overwhelmed. Dr Sarita Robinson, a psychologist from the University of Central Lancaster, says that while we’re increasingly comfortable with the intense physiological conditions of space travel, our understanding of the psychological impacts still leaves something to be desired. Professor Mark Huckvale and a team at University College London ran a research project that investigated whether subtle variations in speech patterns of astronauts taking part in the Mars 500 experiment might reveal anxieties that the astronauts’ words were hiding.

Could subtle cues in the way an astronaut speaks let mission control know when they’re starting to feel the strain?

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