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  • From summer to winter at Concordia station in Antarctica : a pilot ethological study for preparing missions to Mars

    Paper number



    Dr. Carole TAFFORIN, Ethospace, France



    With the goal of preparing for interplanetary missions, we present a new ethological study focused on the co-adaptive process of team-members confronted to social constraints and spatial restrains in the extreme living and working conditions of a polar mission. The objectives are first to point out the incidence of isolation and confinement factors and, secondly, to monitor their evolution over extended periods of time, analogous to a future long trip to Mars. The hypotheses are the occurrence of critical periods or cycles of behavioral changes, related to an adaptive model associating the physiological and psychological modifications.
    The methodological tools of human ethology were applied in an innovative situation of observations: the newly built Franco-Italian Concordia station at Dôme C (75°06’S and 123°21’E). The protocol carried on quantitative data, spatial data and temporal data with a focus on the winterers’ team (n=10; 6 French and 4 Italian; 8 men and 2 women), at mealtimes, in the dining room within the station. The observations consisted of numbering and identifying the subjects, drawing the locations of the tables, and mapping the position of each subject sitting around the tables. Meal durations were noted with information on the time of the first subject arrival, the first departure and the last departure. The full observation sessions included weekly digital pictures and video scanning, during the summer campaign (2 months) and the winter-over (9 months).
    The results showed that before the isolation period, in summer, the winterers’ behavior is organized through a fluctuant social context because of frequent turnovers of the summer personnel. We observed strategies of space grouping, high levels of collective presence combined with numerous social orientations (number of subjects in the visual field of one team-member). During the isolation in winter-over, we observed team’s adaptation expressed by spatial preferences according to the gender (men/women), according to the nationality (French/Italian) and according to the individualities (privileged personal places). The most salient results are the confirmation of 3 periods of adaptation (stages of 13 weeks) and the occurrence of cyclic changes (every 7 weeks). 
    The discussion points out theoretical and applied issues that are relevant for scenarios of a voyage to Mars, on a quarterly basis with a sequential time management. To conclude, a video document will be presented as guided visit about the living and working areas of the Concordia station. Antarctica is explored as land of Science and Peace.
    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-09.A1.1.6.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.