The Expedition 43 crew gathers aboard the International Space Station to affix their mission patch to the vehicle. Commander Terry Virts (center left), Scott Kelly (top left), Gennady Padalka (top center), Anton Shkaplerov (top right), Mikhail Kornienko (bottom right), Samantha Cristoforetti (bottom center).
The International Space Station serves as home, office and recreation room for astronauts. They share this confined space far above the Earth with crew members from different countries and cultures for as long as six months or more. At the same time, maintaining individual well-being and crew harmony is important for the crew and mission success.
The Culture, Values, and Environmental Adaptation in Space (At Home In Space) investigation, sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency, looks at changes in perceptions about home in space and the ways a unique culture may develop aboard the station during a mission. Participants answer a series of questionnaires before, during and after flight, enabling researchers to see whether perceptions and the relative importance of values change over the course of a mission. Questions explore individual and culturally related differences, family functioning and relationships, personal values and coping with stress.
“This is the first study to look at the extent to which a unique, shared space culture develops, whether crews develop customs and celebrations that are part of being on the station and different from what they would do on Earth,” explains Phyllis Johnson, principal investigator, Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.