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Astronauts Trained for Same Situations Families Face Now
Indiana Ag Connection - 03/26/2020

Social distancing as a result of COVID-19 has put families in closer quarters than they are used to, resulting in adjustments and consequences to how they both act and interact on a daily basis.

D. Marshall Porterfield, a Purdue University professor of agricultural and biological engineering, served five years as NASA division director for Space Life and Physical. He has worked with astronauts living in restricted environments and can speak about how they are trained for close crew dynamics, including sleep, stress and isolation issues.

"Part of the challenge of human space exploration includes psychological adaptation to confinement, isolation and separation. Furthermore, interpersonal conflict, loss of sleep and stress are factors that we monitor in terms of crew performance during spaceflight. Now many families around the world are dealing with these issues in response to the COVID-19 threat, during mandated quarantine and home lockdown. Applying the lessons learned from the space program may now benefit broader society in this time of crisis."

Purdue University is known as the Cradle of Astronauts and is home to 24 NASA astronauts and one commercial astronaut, including Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, and Eugene Cernan, the most recent person to do so.

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