The Virtual Space Station, a behavioral health training and treatment program developed by a colllaborative effort between Dartmouth, Harvard, UCLA and The Troupe Modern Media, will add new virtual reality and conflict management content "to help make people feel at ease, at home, happy, comfortable and calm," said Lorie Loeb, a Dartmouth research professor, in a press release.
Currently, the Virtual Space Station includes self-guided training on conflict and stress management. The program also offers a six-session, self-administered depression treatment program guided by psychologist Mark Hegel, Ph.D., a professor at Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine and a co-investigator on the project.
The upgraded system will integrate the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset and sounds and smells for mood modification. The idea is "to trick the brain and make people feel as if they are in a variety of beautiful and calm settings, such as with their family at home or strolling on the beach," Loeb said.
For example, an astronaut may be able to view photos and videos of his or her family, images of a beach, sounds of waves crashing, odors of saltwater and suntan lotion and a fan to simulate ocean breezes.
The system will be tested in Hawaii, at the HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) Mission 3. A team of six members will spend eight months in simulated Mars habitat. A plan to test the system in Antarctica is also in development.