Students will spend 6 months living in a 'space station' to test mental effects

As part of its mission to send people into space, humanity has to answer many questions, and one of those questions involves whether humans are mentally capable of spending long periods of time within relatively tiny self-sustaining space stations. To help determine this, four university students have volunteered to spend 200 days living inside of a self-sustaining 'space station' located in a Beijing suburb.

The four volunteers are students at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and they're now officially residents of the Lunar Palace-1, where they kicked off their 200-day test on Sunday. The system is designed to supply everything they'll need, recycling everything the team produces while using plants for oxygen and special lights in substitution of sunlight. The team will not experience sunlight for the full 200 days.

Importantly, this project will also evaluate the mental effects of spending long periods of time in this type of environment. While the residency may not be burdensome in short cases, the long-term effects could be serious, possibly leading to depression or other issues. The researchers have created a list of daily tasks as a way to help combat any depression that may set in, but further data may lead to better solutions in the future.

The researchers are also specifically looking at how the prolonged period without exposure to sunlight will effect the volunteers, though Reuters reports that not much information was provided on that topic. This isn't the first time the Lunar Palace-1 has had residents; a previous 60-day run was performed, a time period in which at least one resident reported feeling 'a bit low' after awhile.

SOURCE: Reuters