Antarctic expeditioners trial VR mental health technology designed for astronauts

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-09 14:40:53|Editor: ZX
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SYDNEY, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Expeditioners from Australia's Antarctic Division have began trialing a computerized, self-help tool-kit designed for individuals living in confined and extreme environments.

Originally created for astronauts, it's hoped the virtual reality technology will help support the mental health and well-being of some of the world's most isolated workers.

"A mission to Mars is analogous to an Antarctic mission," chief medical officer of Australia's Antarctic Division Jeff Ayton said on Tuesday.

"We are isolated for up to nine months of the year, so that is about the longest that people are isolated in a real-life situation on Earth."

Despite the incredible amount technology and resources that are put into space programs and scientific research projects in remote places like Antarctica, Ayton admits there's still not a lot known about how best to deal with teams in extreme environments.

"What VR allows you to do is to immerse people in different natural settings, so they can be in the Bavarian Alps, or they can be on a beach in Australia, and there's evidence that exposure to nature which we all like and seek out, can be restorative and that it can help people to relieve stress, it can also help perhaps improve people's attention and mental functioning," he said.

"There aren't that many people who live in challenging, isolated, and confined environments like this, so the information we get from them is so valuable because it tells us about how people in this kind of environment would use a tool like this."

When completed, the findings of the trial at the Davis and Mawson research stations will be used to inform astronauts on long-duration flights like the first trip to Mars.