Europe Is Recruiting Astronauts: Here's What It Takes To Become One

Europe Is Recruiting Astronauts: Here's What It Takes To Become One
Future astronauts will visit Mars.
Shutterstock/Vadim Sadovski 

For the first time in 11 years, the European Space Agency (Esa) is recruiting new astronauts. Applications open on March 31 2021 for eight weeks, followed by a six-stage selection process to identify the next generation of European astronauts.

By 2030, humans will once again walk on the surface of the Moon, travel to Mars and potentially enjoy sub-orbital holidays. The new space era will provide enormous benefits to all of us. It will push technologies as we find ways to live sustainably beyond planet Earth, it will create exciting jobs and it will generate new socioeconomic opportunities.

Recruiting new astronauts is the first step into this new era of human space exploration. Many people may have dreamed of becoming an astronaut since childhood, but do you have what it takes?

The criteria

Becoming an astronaut is not simple, nor is it easy. Esa is looking for candidates with different profiles and backgrounds. However, there are some minimum requirements.

The candidates should be knowledgeable in scientific disciplines, with a university degree in physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, engineering or medicine. They must have demonstrated operational and leadership skills and, preferably, have flying experience. However, there are many other skills that can be a real asset to selection, such as wilderness experience, teamwork and adaptability, self-control and ability with languages.

This time, Esa’s opening up its criteria regarding the physical ability of applicants, encouraging those with physical disabilities to apply if they otherwise fit the bill. This is part of a project looking into how best to adapt space travel for disabled astronauts.

The physical challenges

Advancements in technology have allowed us not only to deliver humans to space, but also to live in space.


 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

However, these longer space missions will present much greater challenges to human health and performance than the challenges currently faced by astronauts. Unprecedented distance, duration, isolation and increasingly autonomous operations will be combined with long exposure to a different kind of gravity to Earth – such as weightlessness or the partial gravity on the Moon and Mars.

Space is a hostile environment for human health, with temperature extremes, lack of atmospheric pressure, microgravity, solar and galactic cosmic radiation and high speed micrometeorites.

Radiation is considered one of the most menacing of the space hazards. On Earth, the planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere shield us from the majority of particles that make up the space radiation environment. Even brief exposure to space radiation can be extremely dangerous to health. It has been shown that radiation increases cancer risk, damages the central nervous system, alters cognitive functions, reduces motor control and affect behaviour.

Transitioning from the gravity of Earth to another is also trickier than it sounds. Exposure to non-terrestrial gravity leads to dramatic structural and functional changes in the human physiology, including alterations in the cardiovascular, neural and musculoskeletal systems.

Upon entry into microgravity, for example, pressure is removed from the bodily tissues, causing a migration of fluids from the legs toward the upper body and head – you might have noticed astronauts’ puffy-looking faces. As a result, vision gets worst due to the pressure changes in the brain. Changes have been noticed in the muscles, which shrink and absorb extra tissues from their lack of use, and in the bones, which lose around 15% of their structural density.

Woman in zero gravity conducting experiment, surrounded by equipment.Astronauts will have to conduct experiments. NASA

The mental challenges

Among the most critical problems faced by humans in long duration spaceflight are the cognitive, psychological and psychosocial challenges. Living in a confined space, far from home, in microgravity, for long periods with other people is not an easy task.

Dealing with microgravity is extremely difficult for the human brain. During their first few days of weightlessness, between 40% and 60% of astronauts experience a condition called space adaptation sickness. This causes symptoms of dizziness, vertigo, headaches, cold sweating, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. Consequences range from mild discomfort to impaired cognitive performance. For this reason, no extra-vehicular activities or space-walks are allowed during the first few days of space missions.

Psychosocial changes have also been observed in astronauts. Some have shown a reduced ability to communicate, less interactions with other crew members and the tendency to be more focused on themselves. Motivational decline, fatigue and social tensions might be easily triggered by isolation and confinement in an extraordinary highly demanding and life-threatening environment.

Not surprising, then, is the attention given by space agencies to cognitive and psychological requirements when selecting new astronauts. Candidates should demonstrate good reasoning capability, memory and concentration, the ability to work with others, low level of aggression, and emotional stability to cope with the level of stress and emergencies that may arise during spaceflight.

Long duration spaceflight has revealed a multitude of challenges to crews operating in space environment. Years of physical and psychological training, as well as in-flight medical and operational support, will equip astronauts with excellent tools to cope with the stresses of the spaceflight environment. It’s not an easy job, but certainly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.The Conversation

About the Author

Elisa Raffaella Ferrè, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Royal Holloway

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

You May Also Like

AVAILABLE LANGUAGES

enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

Marie T. Russell's Daily Inspiration

INNERSELF VOICES

What Does Our Authority Rest Upon?
Transitioning from Authoritarian "Outer" Authority to Spiritual "Inner" Authority
by Pierre Pradervand
For thousands of years, ever since mankind started settling in cities, we evolved in rigid,…
The Birthing of A New World Which Is Struggling to be Born
The Birthing of A New World Which Is Struggling to be Born
by Ervin Laszlo
Talk of fundamental change in the world around us is often met with skepticism. Change in society,…
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
Win the Battle In Your Head: Perspective Matters
by Peter Ruppert
We all experience positive and negative self-talk on a regular basis. Whether you realize it or…
Horoscope Current Week: April 19 - 25, 2021
Horoscope Current Week: April 19 - 25, 2021
by Pam Younghans
This weekly astrological journal is based on planetary influences, and offers perspectives and…
If You’ve Contracted COVID: Healing and Moving Forward
If You’ve Contracted COVID: Healing and Moving Forward
by Stacee L. Reicherzer PhD
If you’ve contracted COVID, you not only had health problems that may have been life-threatening,…
Awakening to the Dream of the Earth and Loving the World
Awakening to the Dream of the Earth and Loving the World
by Bill Plotkin, Ph.D.
The most important question is not how to survive biodiversity loss, climate disruption, ecological…
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career 
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career
by Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D.
Even if your tolerance of ambiguity is lower, there are proven ways to build this important…
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
How To Use Family Stories To Build Young People's Resilience
by Mary J. Cronin, Ph.D.
One approach that addresses the challenges families face today comes down to a familiar but often…

MOST READ

Is Your Bedroom Sacred?
Is Your Bedroom Sacred? Honoring Your Personal Sanctuary
by Jon Robertson
The bedroom is home to our prayers and dreams, our solitude and sexuality. In this inner sanctum,…
Age of Pisces to Age of Aquarius
Transitioning from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius
by Ray Grasse
The Age of Aries brought an awakening of the outwardly directed ego, but the more feminine Piscean…
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career 
4 Ways to Build Your Tolerance of Ambiguity—and Your Global Career
by Paula Caligiuri, Ph.D.
Even if your tolerance of ambiguity is lower, there are proven ways to build this important…
3 Ways Music Educators Can Help Students With Autism Develop Their Emotions
3 Ways Music Educators Can Help Students With Autism Develop Their Emotions
by Dawn R. Mitchell White, University of South Florida
Many children with autism struggle to find the words to express how they feel. But when it comes to…
Domestic Violence: Calls For Help Have Increased – But The Answers Haven't Gotten Any Easier
Domestic Violence: Calls For Help Have Increased – But The Answers Haven't Gotten Any Easier
by Tara N. Richards and Justin Nix, University of Nebraska Omaha
Experts expected the increase in domestic violence victims seeking help last year (2020). Victims…
At What Age Are People Usually Happiest? New Research Offers Surprising Clues
At What Age Are People Usually Happiest? New Research Offers Surprising Clues
by Clare Mehta, Emmanuel College
If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what would it be? Would you choose to be nine…
Viking DNA And The Pitfalls Of Genetic Ancestry Tests
Viking DNA and The Pitfalls of Genetic Ancestry Tests
by Anna Källén, Stockholm University and Daniel Strand, Uppsala University
According to recent estimates, over 26 million people from across the world have purchased a…
How Reactivating Traumatic Memories Could Reduce Their Impact
How Reactivating Traumatic Memories Could Reduce Their Impact
by Caitlin Clark, Texas AM
Researchers could be a step closer to finding a way to reduce the impact of traumatic memories,…

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.