Maintaining Psycho-Social Health on the Way to Mars and Back
In future long duration Mars exploration missions, network limitations and the lack of real-time communication capabilities will impact various aspects of space crew performance as well as behavioral health. Studies in ground-based analogs of Isolated and Confined Environments (ICE) such as Antarctica have identified sensory and social monotony as threats to crew psychological well-being. Given the importance of behavioral health to mission success and the extreme conditions of space travel, new methods of maintaining psycho-social health and social connections to support systems are critical. We describe ANSIBLE – A Network of Social Interactions for Bilateral Life Enhancement. ANSIBLE leverages Virtual Environments (VEs) to deliver evidence based wellness promoting strategies and socially intelligent Virtual Agents (VAs) as tools to facilitate asynchronous human-human communication, and counteract behavioral health challenges associated with prolonged isolation and deep space exploration.