The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plans to start testing ANSIBLE, a three-dimensional (3D) virtual environment built by Smart Information Flow Technologies and All These Worlds to help astronauts deal with isolated and confined environments and make re-entry to Earth less stressful.
Although communication inside ANSIBLE is not in real time, servers will be synced in the early hours of the morning, imprinting all activities, messages, and behaviors into the merged world.
Examples of astronaut and family interaction via ANSIBLE could include watching the same comedy show in the club area, having Thanksgiving dinner, and leaving each other packages in the post office. The astronauts would have a 3D printer to bring those gifts to life.
Before it goes into space, ANSIBLE will be tested at HI-SEAS in Hawaii starting in mid-August. Six participants will be isolated and enclosed inside a Mars analog for a full year, during which researchers working with NASA's Human Performance Research arm will monitor their general well-being, mental health, and cognitive impairment. Participants will only be allowed to contact their friends and family through emails, blogs, and other social media, or through the asynchronous embodied and customized avatars within ANSIBLE.
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