Astronaughts are traditionally serious, sensible types with the ‘right stuff’ who can be trusted to fly equipment worth billions of pounds.
But any mission to Mars will need a ‘joker’ or ‘class clown’ figure to be successful, according to Nasa.
A sense of humour will be vital for any team to keep morale high on a two-year trip to Mars which could happen in the 2030s, the space agency added.
The joker role will be tested in Nasa’s group mission simulations at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.
Jeffrey Johnson, professor of anthropology at the University of Florida, is advising Nasa on how teams can cope with extreme periods of isolation. He said: ‘Groups work best when they have somebody who takes on the role of class clown. These are people that have the ability to pull everyone together, bridge gaps when tensions appear and really boost morale.
‘When you’re living with others in a confined space for a long period of time, such as on a mission to Mars, tensions are likely to fray. It’s vital you have somebody who can help everyone get along, so they can do their jobs and get there and back safely. It’s mission critical.’
Professor Johnson added: ‘It’s pretty universal – it doesn’t matter whether you are Russian, Polish, Chinese, Indian. Group dynamics happen in very similar ways across all human groups.’
© Daily Mail