Astronaut experiment could help miners

The findings of an experiment where six astronauts were locked in steel tubes for 18 months to simulate a mission to Mars could help mining workers cooperate on isolated operations.

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The findings of an experiment where six astronauts were locked in steel tubes for 18 months to simulate a mission to Mars could help mining workers cooperate on isolated operations.

According to The Australian three Russians, two Europeans, and one Chinese citizen were locked in steel cans in a Moscow research institute last year to simulate a 520-day mission to Mars.

It was the longest isolation experiment ever conducted, and used new technology to keep positive relations between team members.

According to The Australian smaller studies of human isolation by different organisations have previously ended early after strained relations and open conflict broke out.

Australian-trained psychologist Pauline Willis told The Australian a new system called Sociomapping had been part of the success of the Moscow experiment.

She said isolated mining operations could learn from the technique to ensure workers remained friendly and productive in difficult environments.

"An outback mining operation is one obvious setting where there is a lot at stake if a team stops getting on well and communicating properly," she said.

The system has previously been sold to oil and gas firms and Czech military units in Afghanistan.

Last week the heads of the world’s five biggest space agencies discussed the possibility of mining on the Moon at the International Space Station members meeting.

Several countries have already expressed an interest in the subject and a number of prototype machines already exist.

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