Canadian Space Agency's David Saint-Jacques who is currently stationed at the International Space Station spoke about the health issues that astronauts face in space.
In a space-to-Earth connection, Saint-Jacques participated in the official opening of Health in Space: Daring to Explore, a recently inaugurated permanent exhibition at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, he discussed the physical and mental toll of staying in low-orbit for as much as six months to the human body and mind.
Man Vs. Outer Space
Space is a hostile environment for humans. Astronauts venturing out of Earth will encounter hazards such as radiation and lack of gravity. In addition, the long periods of isolation and confinement that comes with long-haul space travel might cause behavioral issues.
While the ISS floats about 400 kilometers above the surface of the Earth, the astronauts are still exposed to the same health hazards.
"The problem you develop here is that everything is a little bit the same every day," stated astronaut Saint-Jacques during a livestream broadcast on Thursday, Feb.7 via Psychology Today. "It can be depressing sometimes if you're not careful."
Saint-Jacques flew to the ISS as a member of Expedition 58 in December. Onboard the orbital outpost, he will conduct a series of scientific experiments and robotic tasks as well as test new technologies.
Last week, he also helped repair a leaky toilet, that spouted about 9.5 liters of water, in the ISS. He and NASA's Anne McClain installed a new toilet while the others quickly soaked the spilled water with towels.
Moreover, the physical and mental health toll of space will increase as astronauts venture further from Earth.
"The nature of weightlessness, ionizing radiation, and psychological isolation need to be better understood in order to make spaceflight safer for astronauts of the future when we venture off to the Moon, to Mars, and beyond," explained former astronaut Robert Thirsk, who also attended the event to promote the exhibition. "As humans venture further into the solar system in the coming decades, the risks of space travel will multiply."
Health In Space
The Health in Space: Daring to Explore exhibition demonstrates the science that goes into protecting astronauts onboard the ISS from the health hazards of staying in low-orbit. Visitors will get to see objects from into space, hear stories from former and current astronauts, and other activities.
A traveling component of the exhibition will also bring space across Canada until 2020.