The News Today
__
10.23.19
Space Tweets

What Astronauts’ Tweets Could Tell Scientists About the Psychology of Space Travel

October 31st 18__Jon Christian__Filed Under: Off World
Lonfeldt/Tag Hartman-Simkins

Space Tweets

We already knew that Twitter probably isn’t great for mental health. But it turns out the platform could help us keep astronauts in a healthy state of mind.

According to a fascinating new story on Space.com, scientists are now analyzing astronauts’ tweets for signs that the isolation of orbit is making them lonely.

Space Madness

In a paper they presented at Berlin’s International Astronautical Congress, researchers at the University of British Columbia describe how they analyzed tweets by 13 astronauts before, during, and after missions on the International Space Station.

The idea was to identify positive and negative emotions, as well as tweets that referred to friends or family, in order to suss out emotions that the astronauts might not disclose overtly

“The idea is that the thoughts behind or the context behind those tweets still comes from the astronaut themselves, so even when people try to conceal their emotions, our words sort of give us away,” lead researcher Sara Ahmadian told Space.com.

Sub(orbital)tweet

In general, the researchers found the astronauts tweeted fewer positive emotional words while in space — though the number increased after they returned to Earth.

Ahmadian is hopeful that insights from the research could help us better understand the mental and emotional impact of space travel on astronauts as we send them on longer missions to ever-farther destinations.

READ MORE: Tweeting from Space? How 280 Characters Can Change Astronaut Psychology [Space.com]

More on social media in space: What’s it Like Living in Space: Reddit AMA with NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly