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What NASA's doing to help Mars astronauts fight stress

It will be a long, tough journey for the astronauts who embark on the first manned mission to Mars. A brief, new NASA video addresses how the agency's planning to help them deal with the stresses.

NASA and other space agencies are on a mission to bring humans to Mars as early as the 2030s.

It's an exciting prospect, but it will be a physically and psychologically stressful endeavor for those making the journey, NASA reminds us in a video released Thursday titled "The Human Challenges of Mars: Stress."

Astronauts spend long periods crammed into small spaces, millions of miles away from friends and family, and they'll have to conduct critical tasks under tight deadlines. All this, plus living in a weightless environment, can lead to depression, fatigue, lack of motivation, irritability and changes in sleep patterns.

"This mission stands to be more stressful than any that have come before it," says the video, which then goes on to detail some of the ways NASA is working to mitigate the stresses for Mars astronauts.

NASA is currently studying the astronauts aboard the International Space Station to learn how isolated crews perform and interact in close quarters, and it's trying to determine the long-term effects of space travel by studying the effects of prolonged space travel on two astronauts participating in the one-year mission on the ISS.

The organizations is also testing new technologies that could help regulate sleep patterns and combat fatigue, two issues that are majorly affected by space travel, as well as exploring how to put astronauts into deep sleep so they don't have to stay awake for the entire trip, the effects microgravity has on the human brain and what happens to an unprotected human body in space.

These studies will help NASA not only get humans to the Red Planet, but will hopefully help keep them from getting too stressed out during their trip.