When it comes to ensuring the health, safety, and productivity of crewmembers, every detail is significant. Even seemingly trivial features such as the placement of a piece of equipment in the spacecraft can make a crucial difference in safety and productivity of the crew on an exploration mission.
Researchers in the Space Human Factors and Habitability Element of the Human Research Program study these external factors as well as how the design of the spacesuit, spacecraft, or habitat affects crewmembers. They also develop new equipment, procedures, and technologies designed to make the space environment more comfortable and livable. Recent design innovations include isolated sleep quarters that offer privacy and reduced noise, as well as personal space for writing emails, relaxing with a movie or a book, or engaging in other leisure activities.
Other research projects undertaken by the Space Human Factors and Habitability Element include studies assessing the impact of and establishing exposure limits for environmental factors such as chemicals, bacteria, fungi, and lunar dust. Also within this element are food scientists that work to create nutritious and palatable meals that can withstand the rigors of spaceflight and still be prepared easily, generating minimal waste.
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