Space Psychology, Wellness & VR


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The use of complementary medicine approaches can strengthen preventive countermeasures and contribute to their effectiveness in  extreme environments and terrestrial Mars analogues, such as, Arctic, Antarctic or remote, isolated regions like Utah desert, Sahara desert including astronauts during long-duration missions in Space. The benefit to crews in remote, isolated and confined environments, both terrestrial and extra-terrestrial, argues strongly for the development of autonomous modalities for intervention delivery that are well received by crew members, easily integrated into mission schedules and technological resources and can be demonstrated to be effective in preserving well-being over time.

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Credit:  Yoga Docs  and UCLA MARC 

Pilot studies testing mindfulness meditation and yoga with FMARS Crew 144,  MWOB Crew 145 and Crew 151  wearing  I am Cardboard  (Google) 3D Virtual Reality Glasses and EEG headsets 

Dr Susan Jewell together with co-investigator, Dr Sheryl Bishop and collaborators Dr David Black (USC) , Dr Eden Goldman (Yoga Docs) is conducting an ongoing pilot study “yoga and mindfulness meditation” (an IRB approved  quantitative study with University Texas Medical Branch UTMB at Galveston), in collaboration with UCLA /MARC, USC Keck School of Medicine, The Yoga Docs, to investigate the feasibility, utility and benefits of Yoga Therapy (YT)and Mindfulness Meditation (MM) using Virtual Reality (VR) and Body Computer Interfaces (BCI) such as, new novel  EEG headsets ( Neuroelectric,  eMotive and MUSE)  to mitigate negative effects of isolation and confinement in an extreme environment and for maintaining health and wellness for astronauts and future space travelers. The potential  spin-off benefits will have multiple terrestrial  applications for various communities to help support and  maintain and  stress reduction, anxiety  and improve human performance and decision-making for populations living in confinement and isolation, such as, patients residing in long-term care facilities, incarceration in prisons, and explorers.working in extreme dangerous environments.

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Analog Astronaut crews during meditation training sessions 

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Meditation Training  wearing VR google and EEG headsets

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Astronauts using VR goggles during  meditation training with red LED lights and meditative  music

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Astronauts practicing yoga with using VR glasses 


I am Cardboard VR glasses set up  and cell phone with yoga and meditation training programs installed for training the astronauts

Dr Jewell  expanded on a quanlitative pre-pilot feasibility project conducted in early 2014 at MDRS during the MDRS MarsCrew 134 Analog Astronaut Expedition.


Credit: Jewell/Staats.  Pre-pilot Study with UKMarsCrew134

Our prior results indicated that while participants were generally receptive to the use of yoga and mindfulness meditation, a better approach for delivering the intervention was needed; the prior approach relied on a crew member leading a pre-programmed static exercise session. The current study will evaluate the feasibility, utility and projected benefit of employing innovative technologies, such as Virtual Reality (Google’s I am Cardboard 3D VR) and Google Glass (GG), to deliver yoga and mindfulness meditation exercises.

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Credit: Jewell/ MWOB: Meditation and Yoga integrating technologies. Images showing  members of Crew 145  wearing  Google’s 3D VR googles MUSE EEG headset and testing an early prototype “energy” bodysuit.

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Pre-testing saliva collection protocol with FMARS MA365 Crew144

We will measure the impact of these countermeasures via noninvasive body-computer-interface (BCI) EEG head devices, standardized self-report measures of stress, coping and well-being as well as bio-behavioral measures of stress, (cortisol, DHEAS, alpha-amylase, CRH and pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL6, IL1b)) via saliva samples.


Future plans will involve testing proof-of-concept for expansion in integration of complementary various modalities, such as, Reiki, Tai Chi, Medical Acupuncture for space exploration. Oriental Medicine Healing Practices, can potentially be used as mitigation countermeasures for reducing neurological and psychiatric pathology, for example, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and stress induced from living in extreme remote, isolated environments and from long-duration deep space missions to Mars and future settlement of off-world planets.

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