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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew 399

globaljustin writes "Alan Drysdale, a systems analyst in advanced life support and a contractor with NASA concluded, "Small women haven't been demonstrated to be appreciably dumber than big women or big men, so there's no reason to choose larger people for a flight crew when it's brain power you want," says Drysdale. "The logical thing to do is to fly small women." Kate Greene, who wrote the linked article, took part in the first HI-SEAS experiment in Martian-style living, and has some compelling reasons for an all-women crew, energy efficiency chief among them: Week in and week out, the three female crew members expended less than half the calories of the three male crew members. Less than half! We were all exercising roughly the same amount—at least 45 minutes a day for five consecutive days a week—but our metabolic furnaces were calibrated in radically different ways. During one week, the most metabolically active male burned an average of 3,450 calories per day, while the least metabolically active female expended 1,475 calories per day. It was rare for a woman on crew to burn 2,000 calories in a day and common for male crew members to exceed 3,000. ... The calorie requirements of an astronaut matter significantly when planning a mission. The more food a person needs to maintain her weight on a long space journey, the more food should launch with her. The more food launched, the heavier the payload. The heavier the payload, the more fuel required to blast it into orbit and beyond. The more fuel required, the heavier the rocket becomes, which it in turn requires more fuel to launch.
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NASA's HI-SEAS Project Results Suggests a Women-Only Mars Crew

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  • Dear Liza! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scottingham ( 2036128 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:27PM (#48189191)
    The end of that post was totally unnecessary. Did we really need our hands held to make that connection between amount of food required and the weight/cost of a launch?
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:28PM (#48189205)

    That is a pretty compelling reason to have most of the crew women.

    However I'd argue in a truly remote environment where no external help is to be had, that the raw strength a few very fit males could provide could be useful in an emergency.

    Some women can also be very strong, but then would there be any metabolism benefit?

    • by MouseR ( 3264 )

      Enters Robonaut [].

      • by popo ( 107611 )

        No really. Before you mod this flamebait, check the studies. It's 100% true. Statistically speaking (well, at least according to several large surveys), most women actually do prefer male authority in the work-place. []

        And there are thousands of nightmare tales about all female workplaces... []

        Of course such statistics and stories will forever be dismissed by social justice warriors... And there are many here on Slashdot.

        • First spaceship to Mars; one male captain and a crew of women!
        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          NASA has done long duration studies of groups with various sex compositions. IIRC, all male groups work well. Not surprisingly, since most militaries and NASA itself has lots of experience with those. Mixed groups do even better, although there can be problems with sex and jealousy. All female groups were unstable long term.

        • Um, that is not a "study" you linked to. It is an article about an anonymous survey which shows that 39% of women surveyed prefer male bosses and 61% prefer women or don't care. Your source does not even back-up your conclusion. A minority of women in one anonymous phone survey preferred male bosses.

          And there are thousands of nightmare tales about all male workplaces (just ask anyone who has served in the military).

        • Daily Mail articles highlighting a single example should be dismissed, SJW or no.

          The Business Week article discusses a series of Gallup polls, which make a better case. But even there, 34% of people had "no preference" - not that different to the 39% that preferred a male boss. I also note these have been steadily converging for the last few decades.

          In any case, it's not particularly relevant to a Mars mission - candidates would be selected on their ability to get along, not randomly from the population.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:39PM (#48189327)

      Nah, just send one guy. He can do all the heavy lifting; plus he'll be the happiest guy in the solar system.

    • I'm thinking small men who are disproportionally strong.

      Continuing the line of reasoning...

      Send only people with low metabolisms.

      Send only people with dwarfism. (I think the actor who portrays Tyrian in game of thrones is smart enough to be a mission specialist if not a full out astronaut). They can be very strong.

      Perhaps 4'6" males have lower metabolisms than 5'6" females and might still be stronger.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:58PM (#48189621)

        Send amputees missing their legs. Legs are dead weight in space. You can maneuver in zero G with just your arms.

        • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
          What do you a call a guy with no arms and no legs in orbit?

          no, really, I want to hear your punchlines...
        • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:56PM (#48190177) Homepage

          Despite how radical that statement sounds, it's actually perfectly reasonable for a zero-G environment. They're not only dead weight, they're also in the way and make you require larger accomodations.

          Even in Mars's gravity field a legless person would deal quite well, at least inside the facility (picture how easily you could get around without your legs if you suddenly were given 2.5x the arm strength, didn't have your legs weighing you down, and on top of that add in how most double amputees already have good arm strength to begin with). They should be able to "hop" with their arms all the way to a 2 1/2 meter ceiling without trouble, and the full arc would take a good two seconds to come back down. On the moon it'd be even easier. Of course, if they're legless, why would they even need such tall ceilings to begin with?

        • This was a big plot point in a scifi novel I read years ago. A group of people willingly underwent amputation to reduce the mass of legs, allowing them to add more people to their launch crew.

          If I remember correctly, there is a staged automobile accident, causing the main character to lose his legs (not knowing it was intentional) resolving the problem of being separated from the love interest who would be on the shuttle.

          This is really going to bother me until I can remember what novel it was.

        • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @06:56PM (#48190793)

          Send amputees missing their legs. Legs are dead weight in space. You can maneuver in zero G with just your arms.

          StarFox pilots have their legs cut off so they can fit into the cockpits of the Arwings and to prevent blackouts in high-acceleration maneuvers.
          Go look at the original box art and manuals if you don't believe me. They've all got mechanical prosthetics.

      • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:08PM (#48189723) Journal
        Another reason to favor the female of a species for an extended space mission involving possible settlement(s) is the total waste of resources to ship a living male for reproductive purposes.

        Literally millions of diverse fathers can be shipped in much smaller containers requiring minimal upkeep.

    • However I'd argue in a truly remote environment where no external help is to be had, that the raw strength a few very fit males could provide could be useful in an emergency.

      Power tools. Everything from screwdrivers to come-alongs to chain blocks to robotic arms.

      And of course the added benefit of not having crews making babies at the worst possible time. On a one-way mission (say to Mars) there's no reason the all-female crew couldn't just bring along frozen sperm and produce the first generation of Martians.

    • However I'd argue in a truly remote environment where no external help is to be had, that the raw strength a few very fit males could provide could be useful in an emergency.

      I don't know... I think it'd make sense to try to evaluate the likelihood of needing that raw strength. What are possible situations that a manned mission to Mars would need strength? Now eliminate all of those situations where a group of women would be strong enough to accomplish the task. Now that that set, and eliminate the situations in which men would not be strong enough. Now you have the set of situations/tasks where men's strength would be of benefit to the mission.

      Now you do a sort of risk ana

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

        What are possible situations that a manned mission to Mars would need strength?

        Infinite given you'd be in a delicate habitat on Mars with no idea what to expect.

        • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @06:29PM (#48190547) Journal

          Or, put differently, a diversity of skills and abilities is what you want to deal with the unknown. NASA knows this, of course. But it's not just a variety of PhDs that you want, it's a variety of physical capacities and problem-solving approaches.

          Historically, NASA has expected any improvisation to happen on the ground, where teams could experiment and relay the best, tested idea back to the guy in space. That becomes less practical the further you get form Earth. Diversity beyond "diversity of PhDs" will be valuable.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      That is a pretty compelling reason to have most of the crew women.

      Time to whip out my Dr Strangelove DVD and review the bit about mineshafts.

    • What weight can a woman lift? I guess 50 kg (on earth, yes I know the difference between mass and weight).
      What weight can a man lift? I guess 100 kg.

      What is the range of 90% of weights that could need lifting in an emergency? Anything from 1 to 1000 kg - guessing again.

      So men are only useful for a range between 50 and 100 kg, which is (100 - 50) / 1000 = 5% of the time.
      Not worth taking a man, I say.

  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:29PM (#48189213)

    This is going to be great. I can't think of a single reply to this I could make that wouldn't start an immediate flame war other than the one I'm making, and that's only because it's totally off topic. And I think there's still a 50/50 chance it'll happen.

  • I suggest a mixed crew, with a diversity of strengths and weaknesses. Plus for a super long journey (one which they may not return from), companionship from the opposite sex will likely be important for long term mental health.

    • by jovius ( 974690 )

      I suggest all robot crew. Telepresence capabilities and careful modelling and tracking of the environment will enable pseudo-realtime exploration on Mars. This is possible now.

      If a crew is sent I wonder if actually a bisexual polyamorous crew would be the most cohesive. The less defences the better I guess?

    • companionship from the opposite sex will likely be important for long term mental health.

      Or it could cause problems. Imagine having to break off a relationship while stuck in a tiny spaceship with that person for months. Imagine if one of the women became pregnant. Lots of things could go wrong.

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:31PM (#48189249) Homepage
    The real problems for long distance space travel is not food, air or mass.

    Instead it is: Radiation and muscle loss

    Long term travel exposes humans large amounts of radiation, in particular from cosmic rays, and from

    In addition, living in a low gravity environment destroys your bones.

    These two issues are far more problematic than food, air, and water.

  • by HeckRuler ( 1369601 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:32PM (#48189257)

    Yeah, that's great and all, but the right way to post this is that the ideal astronaut has a low calorie requirements and leave unsaid that the people who can fill that role is women. No need to drag sexism into the fight when there are perfectly logical rationals for crew selection.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How about looking at it this way:

      A spaceship full of healthy, trim, petite lonely females, isolated from the rest of humanity for years. On High Def TV.

      What's not to like?

    • Pretty much any man on a strict fitness regiment is going to burn more calories than pretty much any woman. So it might make sense to target women for such a role.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by HeckRuler ( 1369601 )

        No, this is the point I'm trying to make:
        1) Find idea criteria.
        2) Select people that best fit criteria.
        3) OH LOOK, they're all female.

        The part where you go out of your way to target women is where you forcefully insert sexism into a hole it doesn't belong in.

        • Perhaps but when you're looking for the best of the best you need to limit your short-list however you can. If scientifically speaking women are going to fit your criteria better than men at astounding rates why waste short-list spots? It's a statistics game. Might be beneficial to make an estimate about percentage of men that would meet that criteria and give them that much on the short-list.
          • The definition of male and female can get rather murky when you really start looking at the variety of people out there.
            There's a reason that the olympics uses testosterone levels and not whatever sexual organs you may (or may not) have.

            Granted the pool of astronauts is a lot smaller so it probably doesn't matter that much but it would suck to be that one small 'male' astronaut with a low metabolic rate that wasn't even considered because the astronaut shows up in a database as having a penis.

    • Their next alternative was people with dwarfism, but many of them suffer from problems that shorten their lifespan considerably. Actually, I kid ... the article *actually* said:

      As reasonable as an all-female Mars mission is from an economic perspective, some might find the idea offensive. After all, it'd be an expedition that fails to represent half the world's population; an all-female Mars crew would strike many as exceptionally biased.

    • Actually, I think you've hit the nail on the head. If calorie requirements were such a problem, they'd be actively seeking people who are intersex: []

      But, I suspect they are NOT a problem. One could easily fit enough food to last for years in a small enough space that the tradeoffs for picking a person based on the many other attributes that would be far more valuable than the limited space that food would take up.

      Now if you want to feed that person fresh vegetables the whole

    • The problem w/ the "women only" conclusion is that it myopically focuses on **ONE** factor as if it is the determining factor in mission success.

      Part of this is the fault of NASA admin/beauracracy: "We can't spare the weight" is an excuse for all kinds of ideas NASA wanted to kill...

      "Too heavy" is almost a trope in NASA/space's the go-to way for beauracrats to make their presence known.

      As others have pointed out, weight and food requirements are not a determining factor in mission success.

      At be

    • Exactly. To generalize an attribute to sex is sexism, because people aren't average. If we need strong people to be firefighters, then should we require that firefighters be men? No, because we can simply require people to pass a strength test.

    • No need to drag sexism into the fight when there are perfectly logical rationals for crew selection.

      This study was essentially how to maximize the brainpower/resource ratio for a mars mission and group W was consistently higher than group M. Why is it sexist to identify group W's common characteristic? Your "right way to post this" leaves out the results...and turns into clickbait! To me this is about as close as you can get to "the most qualified person for the job" that /. is always clamoring for whenever race or gender come up.

    • by s.petry ( 762400 )

      Anyone not realizing that there are differences between men and women is an idiot. Men can lift more weight than women, and we have known this for thousands of years. In fact my favorite book "The Republic" has Socrates stating that Women should be in the military, even though everyone else argues that they can't carry as much weight into battle. It's not a shock, it's a fact that we each have some strong and weak points regarding our physique.

      We also know that women tend to use more emotion in judgement

  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:35PM (#48189289) Homepage

    During one week, the most metabolically active male burned an average of 3,450 calories per day, while the least metabolically active female expended 1,475 calories per day.

    And this comparison is useful to point out because.... ?

    • Re:So? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:41PM (#48189371) Journal

      And how does the most metabolically active female compare to the least metabolically active male?

    • The whole thing has macabre connotations, reminds me of the popular (in 90s) Russian novel "Omon Ra" - a fictitious noir account of Soviet space program, where one of the stages of preparation for the flight "To The Cosmos" was amputation of both legs - in order to fit into a small rocket...

    • For the same reason it is useful to point out that Christian charity workers are better than Muslim suicide bombers.
  • Weight is key in space. This is why I have always maintained that paraplegic midgets are the way to go. Cut off their useless legs and they will be like 5 pounds, that is like 50 times lighter! And that weight and size difference translated to less food, less water, small equipment and living spaces.
    • Why not work towards brain-in-a-jar technology?

      Or how about, you know, robots?

      • Because they want humans in space, not probes. Does not matter how good of a robot you build when they are only interested in sending humans.
  • by Venotar ( 233363 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:49PM (#48189489) Homepage
    Mars does need women.
  • by oldmac31310 ( 1845668 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:53PM (#48189553) Homepage
    I suppose we'll have to send the men there and that will turn the whole thing on it's head.
  • by blueshift_1 ( 3692407 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:57PM (#48189611)
    I guess it's time to update the adage of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" to "Women go to Mars, Men chill out and drink beer on Earth"
  • by djKing ( 1970 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @04:57PM (#48189613) Homepage Journal

    Yet another case of Science Fiction becoming Science Fact ;)

  • That argument could be extended to suggest that crew should be only people with Dwarfism. Everything could be smaller!

    Then you could name the spaceship "Snow White", and sell the movie rights to Disney.

  • Old news (Score:4, Informative)

    by istartedi ( 132515 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:08PM (#48189725) Journal

    I recall hearing that from a physiological standpoint, the best fighter pilot is a short female with slightly elevated blood pressure. Apparently, such a pilot could tolerate G-forces better in addition to requiring slightly less thrust from the aircraft. I'm not surprised they're better in space.

    Of course for historical reasons that's not a common profile for a fighter pilot or an astronaut.

  • by Bodhammer ( 559311 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:10PM (#48189755)
    "Leather Goddesses of Phobos!"
  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:11PM (#48189771)

    They suck down less oxygen too. Divers know this firsthand ;-)

  • As we all know, it's still very expensive to put a kilo into low Earth orbit, so sending a kilo to Mars will only be that much more expensive. Therefore, even as a guy, the line of reasoning seems plenty reasonable to me. Ideally, we would put the crew in stasis while en route, but in lieu of that, having a crew that will not have to take nearly as much food with them makes a lot of sense. Besides, including men in the mission "just because they can lift heavier things" would be tantamount to admitting our
  • Razor Edge (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baby Duck ( 176251 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:32PM (#48189967) Homepage
    If your Mars mission is cutting it so close that the calorie requirement between men and women is a major factor ... maybe that's a sign no one should go using your plan.
    • Re:Razor Edge (Score:5, Insightful)

      by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:47PM (#48190113)

      Of course, that's just the false pragamatism. In the old just post jim crow days, they did this with race, too. This article reeks of pro-feminist propaganda. What if they said that the crew should be all white because they scored higher on some test, or better yet, separate-but-equal missions, but the non white mission received half the funds? Seriously, in any other configuration, the statements made by this article would be considered bigoted, but since it's pro woman who cares, right? For great social justice?

      The only people deserving of hate here are the hypocrites who come up with this bullshit and try to pass it off as moral.

    • Nonsense. Let's say your men need 3000 kCal/d and your women need 2000 kCal/d. You can afford to send three women for every two men you eliminate from the crew. It's a no brainer.

  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @05:34PM (#48189989)

    ...just don't put any mission critical supplies in pickle jars.

  • Women are from Mars, as any married man can attest. It only makes sense to send a few back. Besides, what would the Martians make of a buch of alien men, when they could relate so much better to women.
  • The plot for Amazon Women From Mars II.

  • May I suggest to send Snow White and the seven dwarfs, and no Apple please.
  • by Nethemas the Great ( 909900 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @07:01PM (#48190827)
    Just what mission control wants to deal with. A cramped can more inhospitable and treacherous than the planet they're heading for.
  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Monday October 20, 2014 @09:07PM (#48191677)

    So are we giving up on the idea of some sort of low metabolism sleep state?

My mother is a fish. - William Faulkner