The UVic, UBCO, and UC members are travelling separately, but we are all at our respective airports and if our group chat is any indication, we are all excited!
I have to admit when we first started playing with the MUSE EEG headband back in 2013 in my lab at Dalhousie I never thought it would lead to this.
But here we are, en route to see if tech we have developed can be used to accurately monitor brain health and performance to support exploration in Outer Space.
My inner geek is beyond excited. My neuroscience self is so curious.
To be fair, we already know the tech works. We have tested over 1500 people in a variety of settings and we know we can do this. We just need to show it works in this particular situation, which it will.
I was speaking at Cafe Scientifique the other night and asked a simple question:
"What if we could peer into you brain and know what is wrong, right now, with 100% accuracy?"
Imagine a world where you knew if you had cognitive impairment, dementia, or Alzheimers.
Imagine a world where you knew if your recovery concussion was not progressing they way you hoped it would.
Imagine a world where you could do things to tweak your brain performance and see the results instantaneously.
Well, our tech is that world. As we continue to improve, expand, and validate our brain health and performance assessment we can answer these questions and create that world.
Tomorrow we all get on a plane to head to Hawaii and begin our research project. Our current schedule is:
Nov 28: In transit
Nov 29 to 30: Crew training
Dec 1 to Dec 8: In the HISEAS Habitat for our mission
Dec 9: Debrief
We are all excited and ready to go! I think every child dreams of being an astronaut. I know this is now quite the same, but it is good enough for me. To see tech that we developed deployed in the HISEAS Habitat will be a career high for me.
I got asked about what we had to do to get ready to go.
Physically, we have all been exercising more as the "mars walks" in a space suit are apparently quite physically demanding. I think we have all been watching our diets a bit more closely as well.
On the science side, we have been testing and retesting the hardware and software to make sure that is all good to go. This is literally a once in a lifetime chance for us so we definitely do not want to have equipment failure.
Mentally, it will be hard to be locked away. The simulation is realistic - no live communication of any kind. Our only communication with the outside world will be via email that is deliberately delayed 20 minutes to simulate the communication time from Mars. So... no FaceTime to loved ones, no quick Google searches to see what is going on. We will literally be in isolation. I am sure when this is over we will all have a newfound respect for the people that do the long duration one year simulations. Of course, I have always had respect for the people that do this for real in outer space.
One more day.
UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA MEDIA ADVISORY
Nov. 26, 2019
This is your brain on Mars
On Dec. 1, an all-Canadian, multi-university research team will be entering the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mars Habitat to test and validate if a new technology using mobile EEG (electroencephalography) will be an effective and reliable way to monitor astronauts’ brain function and fatigue during missions in outer space.
During the one-week simulation in the HI-SEAS Mars Habitat on the Mauna Loa side of the Big Island of Hawaii, the crew of scientists will wear the EEG devices themselves and track changes in their memory, decision-making, learning, attention and perception.
The research project is co-led by Olav Krigolson, neuroscientist and associate director of UVic’s Centre for Biomedical Research, along with scientists from UBC’s Okanagan Campus (Gordon Binsted), University of Calgary (Kent Hecker), University of Hawaii and International MoonBase Alliance (Michaela Musilova), with two UVic PhD students (Tom Ferguson and Chad Williams).
Their findings could also have wide-ranging impacts on people in many occupations who face long work hours and require critical decision-making skills, including emergency room physicians, pilots or heavy equipment operators.
Once the mission starts, UVic researchers will be posting daily reports and their brain performance data to the project blog at destinationmars.ca, and to UVic social media channels including @universityofvictoria on Instagram and @uvic on Twitter.
The importance of sleep in fighting fatigue, TED Talk by Dr. Matt Walker.
Dr. Olav Krigolson is the Associate Director for the Centre for Biomedical Research, an Associate Professor in Neuroscience, and the Principle Investigator of the Theoretical and Applied Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Victoria.