Life at the Franco-Italian Concordia station in Antarctica for a voyage to Mars: ethological study and anthropological perspectives

For preparing the next interplanetary missions, this study proposes an ethological analysis of the social group building and individual strategies of a multicultural and mixed gender team in isolation and confinement conditions found in a polar mission. A model of adaptation to space environment is stated and implies physiological, psychological and behavioral levels. The behavioral observations were made weekly on the summer personnel and the winterers during a daily life activity over three months of the summer campaign and nine months of the winter period in Antarctica. They were based on a quantitative description of the team-members’ spatial behavior (social orientations, space sharing, place preferences) during the morning, midday and evening meals at the cafeteria of the Concordia station. They were completed with quantitative information (collective attendance) and temporal information (collective time). The results show a social cohesion when considering spatial indicators, expressed by an increase of the visual relationships and a more frequently occupied place per gender and nationality, in summer. In the collective activities, the meal duration draws cyclic variations every seven weeks and the meal attendance is differently organized according to the three winter periods. The discussion points out theoretical, methodological and applied issues of this pilot study, and suggests Mars mission scenarios. From a transdisciplinary viewpoint, it is related to anthropological perspectives of the future microsocieties.