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Breakdown Forces New Look At Mars Mission Sexuality 528

Posted by Zonk
from the acting-like-adults-at-nasa dept.
FloatsomNJetsom writes "Popular Mechanics has up an interesting story, discussing what the long-term implications of the Lisa Nowak incident could mean for Mars Mission crew decisions: With a 30-month roundtrip, that isn't the sort of thing you'd want to happen in space. Scientists have been warning about the problems of sex on long-term spaceflight, and experts are divided as to whether you want a crew of older married couples, or asexual unitard-wearing eunuchs. The point the article makes specifically is that NASA's current archetype of highly-driven, task-oriented people might be precisely the wrong type for a Mars expedition. In addition scientists may use genomics or even functional MRI in screening astronauts, in addition to facial-recognition computers to monitor mental health during the mission." Maybe observers could just deploy the brain scanner to keep track of them?
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Breakdown Forces New Look At Mars Mission Sexuality

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  • Re:Submariners (Score:2, Informative)

    by EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) on Friday February 09, 2007 @10:12AM (#17948146) Journal
    "In the navy..."

    On a more serious note, submariners do not spend the entirety of the time submerged away from civilisation. They probably spend at the absolute most a month outside of human contact at sea. Remember while a nuclear submarine can run damn near indefinitely (until the uranium/plutonium runs out) the food supply cannot last indefinitely. You'll have stop off's at friendly ports to resupply, get r&r etc.
  • Robert Heinlein? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 09, 2007 @10:32AM (#17948464)
    "With a 30-month roundtrip, that isn't the sort of thing you'd want to happen in space."

    Isn't this how "Stranger in a Strange Land" started out? A trip to mars with infidelity and murder?
  • Re:Submariners (Score:4, Informative)

    by idontgno (624372) on Friday February 09, 2007 @10:37AM (#17948524) Journal

    They probably spend at the absolute most a month outside of human contact at sea.

    Not in the U. S. Navy's submarine service. The operating cycle of an Ohio-class ballistic missile sub appears to be 112 days, of which 74 are at sea and 38 days are in-port refit (see http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/rep ort/1999/newssbn.htm [globalsecurity.org]). On that 2 1/2 month deterrent patrol, a Trident boomer won't surface, let alone put into port.

    So at least in the boomer service, submarine crews spend a looong time away from anyone but each other.

  • by Flying pig (925874) on Friday February 09, 2007 @10:45AM (#17948656)
    Read N A M Roper, the leading historian of the Royal Navy. Rum, sodomy and the lash basically arrived when the Navy ceased to be run by professionals and was taken over by the aristocracy (who saw the opportunities for prize money for younger sons.) The aristocracy tried to run the Navy like the Army. The old all-professional Navy wasn't particularly averse to women on board, but disliked homosexuality because it might complicate working relationships, which had to stay good for people to stay alive. Given the relatively short voyages of those days, the opportunities for nookie were many. Even when blockading towns - perhaps especially when blockading towns - there were plenty of ladies of negotiable affection (or even laundrywomen) who were prepared to risk themselves in small boats for pecuniary advantage.

    If Churchill ever said that, he was joking.

  • Re:Maybe... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 09, 2007 @11:29AM (#17949442)

    ...just maybe Lisa was somewhat unstable to BEGIN with? Maybe this is an isolated incident, but psychological profiles should be taken with greater care before extended missions IMNSHO.

    That's the first thing that occurred to me. I think it's kind of ignoring the obvious when you find out one of your astronauts is on the road to being a psycho killer, so naturally the first think you start talking about is sex in space. What about the psycho killer part? Is if possible that if you solved _that_ problem, sex would be less of an issue?

    People with issues can have all kinds of triggers. You can't possibly get rid of all of them in advance, especially the bad food, cramped quarters, all electronic, nothing firm under your feet triggers that any space mission will have to deal with. Since you can't get rid of the triggers (though you will try to minimized the obvious ones), you need to put most of your money on getting people who have their shit together.

    You can blame this on sex if you want, but it's like blaming the War in Iraq on weapons of mass destruction. In both cases, there's a stated reason for what happened, but something more fundamental is driving the event. If Lisa didn't already have problems, this wouldn't have been an issue.
  • Re:Submariners (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei (128717) on Friday February 09, 2007 @01:45PM (#17951702) Homepage
    I have, and I'm wondering what hat you and the parent are pulling that "research" from. Here's what I've found [theage.com.au].

    During the 1977 International Biomedical Expedition to Antarctica, a 12-man adventure lasting 72 days, bickering became such a problem that psychologists accompanying the expedition had to intervene. Antarctic literature is full of stories about teammates who stopped talking to one another or even fought - one concerns a cook with a meat cleaver facing off against an engineer brandishing a fire axe.

    So psychologists will have to find new ways to select crews that will not crack in close confinement. Evidence suggests that the best crew may be female: we may be celebrating the first woman on Mars in a few decades.

    They tend to be smaller than men, saving on fuel, food, water and oxygen. Most important of all, they tend to be more tolerant of their companions. Annexstad has noted the positive effects of women on long Antarctic missions. In crews with women, he notes, there seems to be less competition, and the crews seem to get along a little better. So women in space crews serve a socialising purpose, as well as their mission function.


    But anyways, back to Slashdot's regularly scheduled mysogyny about women needing a man with a "stern hand" to keep them in line, and general sexual fantasies, upon hearing the word "woman".
  • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday February 09, 2007 @06:47PM (#17956974) Journal
    There are people doing that already, actually. I have a friend who does research on manned mars missions and they simulate them in a desert in Peru, and another in Arizona: put five or seven people in there, in lightweight space suits, for a month, with tools and machinery, and figure out what's difficult to operate and how it should be modified, and observe the interpersonal dynamics. I wish I had some links, but it's just something she talks about a lot.
  • Re:*Chuckle* (Score:2, Informative)

    by RealGrouchy (943109) on Friday February 09, 2007 @11:05PM (#17959212)

    "Asexual 'tards running Unix" - isn't that the Slashdot stereotype? *ducks*

    Not wanting sex != not getting it

    - RG>

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