Life in extraterrestrial space: an anthropological consideration on astronauts' everyday experiences
Tomohisa Sato (Kyoto Bunkyo University)
Paper short abstract:
Since the launch of the ISS (International Space Station), many astronauts have stayed in extraterrestrial space. In this presentation, based on the texts written by astronauts, their everyday experiences are examined from three standpoints: psychological, physical, and ontological perspective.
Paper long abstract:
Since the completion of the ISS (International Space Station) in 2011, over 80 astronauts have already experienced months of life in an extraterrestrial space. In this presentation, based on an analysis of the texts mainly written by three Japanese ISS astronauts (Wakata, Noguchi, and Furukawa), the meanings of their everyday experiences in ISS are examined from three standpoints: psychological, physical, and ontological perspective. 1) Psychological studies show that long-duration astronauts showed an increased concern with Universalism more than short-term flight astronauts (Suedfeld et al. 2010). 2) Physical transformation in the ISS, such as space adaptation syndrome (SAS), decreased muscle strength, and "moon-face" are commonly experienced. As a physician-astronaut, Furukawa describes these changes scientifically and subjectively, being surprised by the rapid adaptation of the human body to a micro-gravity environment. 3) The basic orienting system (Gibson 1966) formed around a vertical axis defined by gravity is going to be temporally dysfunctional in the ISS, but within a month or so, astronauts become accustomed to a micro-gravity environment, and feel free to move around in the ISS. This process may be seen as a reconstruction of interrelated structure between things and the body, which Heidegger once called "familiarity with the world," as an ontological basis of human beings. Overall, this research suggests that an extraterrestrial culture has already started to be generated in an ISS environment, forming new ontological relationships between human-beings and the extraterrestrial nature.
Challenges of space anthropology