The isolation times is an excellent opportunity to reflect about new ways of management and operation of Mars analog research stations considering the creation of new processes as develop strategies of communication with our community. NASA is one example of organization that changed some protocols of work.
In terms of communication, frequently, the astronauts had been asked how to experience isolation in space. The Mars analog habitats would be talking about it.
In Brazilian Mars analog research station We are developing virtual and hybrid missions. Just happened one virtual and other hybrid.
In virtual missions, participants are invited to participate in remote activities related to the Habitat Mars protocols and research themes that associate space and sustainability, observing how Habitat Marte can contribute to solutions related to isolation during the coronavirus period. We realized that the actions of Habitat Mars may present guidelines for this challenging moment. In this modality, we are prioritizing ex-mission participants.
Can virtual missions be understood as simulation missions for a space station? It depends on the challenges and the task routines to be developed. For greater accuracy, the following methodology was proposed:
1. Presentation of the date and duration of the virtual mission;
2. Invitation to participants who wish and are available to participate in the mission;
3. Creating a group on Whatsapp;
4. Disclosure and adjustment of the objectives and details of the mission;
5. Start of the mission at a scheduled time and date;
6. During the mission, several messages are exchanged via Whatsapp with the definition of tasks to be developed by each member of the mission;
7. holding video meetings using Google Hangouts Meets at scheduled times;
8. Preparation of the report with records of the activities carried out during the mission;
9. Finalization of the report;
10. End of the mission.
Virtual missions can have many benefits / advantages, such as:
1 - maintain engagement among researchers at Habitat Marte;
2 - provide the generation of ideas that can occur, when you are not on a face-to-face mission and that occur from the change of the mental model;
3 - greater safety for the participants, as they are not subject to the threats that can occur during the trip to Habitat Marte, as well as a possible accident in the activities at Habitat Marte.
4 - possibility of greater focus on activities that involve writing;
5 - maintain integration and companionship among the members of the missions;
6 - less or no exposure to the possibilities of contamination with the coronavirus;
7 - possibility to generate more research content;
8 - times of conversations and video calls are recorded on the platforms, which helps to remember times of activities to be inserted in the report;
9 - possibility of longer missions;
10 - greater saving of resources, considering that it does not involve travel and food for the participants;
11 - Greater possibility for participants to reconcile the mission with other personal activities;
12 - Possibility of incorporating the participation of other people in the mission as collaborating participants, a new category proposed, in what is understood as a hybrid mission.
13 - Greater flexibility in the development of the mission;
14 - Possibility to generate scalability to the Habitat Marte station.
15 - Scope of the mission to people from different places and countries.
On hybrid virtual missions (partially remote and partly in person), another feature and possibility is to have hybrid teams, which would involve having some participants in person, at Habitat Marte, and others acting remotely, in a virtual way, collaborating with some component of the mission and working at specific times, for example. This collaborator can be a former member, a personality, a scientific communicator, or even a foreign citizen.
In both hybrid and virtual missions, there is the possibility of international missions taking place entirely in English, with participants from different countries.
In hybrid and virtual missions there are schedules for individual and group activities. Group activities, which bring all participants together online using video calls on Zoom, Google Meet and Whatsapp, could be broadcast live to a large audience.
Virtual missions are a step towards generating the scalability of Habitat Marte, which can be offered from a virtual platform, with the possibility of participation by people from different countries. More on Habitat Marte: www.HabitatMarte.com.