Promoting tech transfer between space and global mental health

Donald D. Chang, Eric A. Storch, Lance Black, Michael Berk, Neal Pellis, Helen Lavretsky, Jeffrey Sutton, Kylie Ternes, Marc Shepanek, Erin Smith, Ryan Abbott, Harris A. Eyre

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Numerous issues in mental health benefit from technological innovation. An example involves the mental health challenges of long-duration spaceflight (such as a Mars mission), including prolonged confinement, microgravity, and different sunlight exposure lengths. Persisting on Earth are global mental health challenges stemming from disease burdens, limited interview-based diagnostic systems, trial-and-error treatment approaches, and suboptimal access. There is potential for cross-pollinating solutions between these seemingly disparate challenges using a range of emerging technologies such as sensors, 'omics', and big data. In this review, we highlight the bidirectional value of mental health technology transfer aimed to address issues both on Earth and in space. METHODS: We prepared a systematic review of studies pertaining to mental health technological innovation and space medicine. RESULTS: For Earth mental health technologies translatable to long-duration space missions, we cite several example technologies, including device-based psychotherapy and social support, conversational agents 'aka chatbots', and nutritional and physical activity focused mental health. Space technologies translatable to Earth mental health include remote sensing devices, global navigation satellite systems, satellite communications, chronotherapies, and nutritional advances. DISCUSSION: There is a rich history of space technologies informing Earth technological trends, including general health care on Earth, and vice versa. To avoid the traditional happenstance approach that results in delays, missed opportunities, and increased cost, and to improve outcomes for both Earth and space utilization of these technologies, we propose increased dialogue and training opportunities to enhance innovation and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)737-745
Number of pages9
JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Astronautics
  • Mental health
  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Space medicine
  • Technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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