Antarctic Astronauts

NASA and ESA are working with the British Antarctic Survey to study how humans survive conditions resembling a long duration spaceflight or staying on the Moon or Mars. Fortunately, there is somewhere on Earth where people are as isolated as astronauts – Antarctica.

During Antarctica’s long winter, people on the Concordia research station feel as if they are on another planet. There are sub-zero temperatures, it is difficult to breathe inland as the air is so thin, and some parts of the continent are cut off for months on end, leaving people isolated with no way home.

In this film ESA medical doctor, Beth Healey (who spent a year on the continent) uses a video diary format to describe what it was like to overwinter on the Concordia station. The psychological and physiological challenges are similar to those experienced by astronauts on the International Space Station and will help assess how people will perform on future missions to the Moon, Mars or beyond.

Author: Monica Edwards

Monica Edwards is a communications strategist for the Human Research Engagement and Communications Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Formerly a high school journalism and communications teacher, she is a Texas-native and lifelong NASA enthusiast specializing in web feature stories and graphic designing.

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