SBU Research into the Effect of Prolonged Space Travel

By Shannon Bohman

space travel

Image acquired from:

Figure 1 This picture shows an artist’s rendition of space from a spacecraft.

Researchers in Stony Brook’s Department of Psychiatry received two grants from NASA and are currently investigating the effect of long-term space travel on astronauts.

The first grant is a three-year project investigating new ways to provide proper psychotherapy to astronauts. Extended voyages into space can cause anxiety, interpersonal conflict, and fatigue. Meanwhile, communication with Earth becomes more difficult the further one travels. The gap between when messages are sent and received can be as large as 45 minutes, making real-time psychotherapy sessions impossible. Researchers are investigating means of bridging that gap so astronauts can remain resilient to the adverse psychological effects of long-term space travel.

The second grant is a one-year project that strives to pinpoint essential psychological and neurobiological traits of adults who adapt and succeed under chronic stress. These characteristics can then become criteria for astronaut selection.

These findings will help facilitate safe and successful manned deep-space missions in the near future.



  1. Roth, SBU research will help astronauts on future deep-space missions. SBU Happenings (2015).

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