Astronauts: social distancing experts

Space Science

MYSTERY WIRE — The term social distancing was not known to many just a few weeks ago. Unless you were an astronaut. They have been experts in keeping their distance from other for decades. With some astronauts spending months at a time in space, isolated and away from family and friends.

NASA is now researching even more extreme social distancing. With manned missions to Mars on the horizon, astronauts will need to deal with isolation for much longer periods of time. Forbes recently asked astronauts about their social distancing experiences.

Forbes wrote about John Grunsfeld PhD, a retired NASA astronaut and Hubble Space Telescope repairman who spent over 59 days in space. “Nearly every minute of the day is scripted with tasks,” shares Dr. Grunsfeld. “While we were isolated, we had regular contact with the ground. At some times, so much contact that we wished the ground would leave us alone and let us get our work done.”

Astronaut John Grunsfeld performs work while participating in the first of five scheduled spacewalks (GETTY IMAGES)

“Start a new project or challenge that you’ve wanted to do but didn’t have the time. Trade your commute time for learning a new skill.”

John Grunsfeld PhD – Fmr. Astronaut on what we can do today to make social distancing easier

Astronauts are also scheduled, sometimes daily, to exercise. It not only keeps them mentally sharp, but does help pass the time. “On the International Space Station, the other key activity to maintain good health – mind and body – is regular exercise,” says Dr. Grunsfeld. Astronauts are required to spend several hours each day exercising; this helps maintain their physical wellbeing and also taps into the psychological benefit of exercise to fight depression and other mental health issues.

Other tips from astronauts are fairly simple but could make a huge difference:

  • Keep your surroundings clean
  • Take stock in your supplies
  • Keep communicating with other people any way you can
  • Do small things to make other people happy

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