Status Report

TRISH Seeks Companies with Behavioral Health Solutions for Mars – Solicitation seeks to safeguard astronauts’ health during deep space missions

By SpaceRef Editor
March 15, 2020
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The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) at Baylor College of Medicine is seeking companies with fresh ideas to help guard the minds of future deep space explorers. 


As a partner to NASA’s Human Research Program, TRISH sources innovative products and approaches to protect and optimize astronaut health and performance in deep space. TRISH is awarding from $100,000 to $500,000 to selected companies ready to confront behavioral health challenges astronauts will face on a three-year journey to Mars. The intent with this program is to support new approaches not previously funded or considered by NASA or its affiliates.


“Large and small companies are addressing the behavioral health, patient management, and cognitive performance domains for use far outside the hospital,” said James Hury, TRISH’s Deputy Director and Chief Innovation Officer. “TRISH is tapping into this activity to find the behavioral health tools that should be in NASA’s future medical kit.”


TRISH considers adverse cognitive or behavioral health conditions to be a critical mission risk for long-duration space travel. Crews must endure extreme stress, isolation, confinement and communication delays throughout the three-year journey to Mars and back. This solicitation seeks new ways of predicting these cognitive or behavioral changes, preventing decline, or diagnosing and treating the crew.  


They must also be practical for space travel: requiring minimal and unobtrusive monitoring, minimal resources, no resupply and available to the crew even in the absence of communication with Earth.


While the solicitation welcomes all novel approaches in this field, example topics include:


  • Unobtrusive monitoring (i.e., non-contact or ‘no-nuisance’ contact sensors) that can accurately assess an individual’s behavioral and/or cognitive status
  • Closed-loop approaches that combine ongoing monitoring with actionable insights such as countermeasures that ensure or return one to optimal or healthy states.
  • New stress and anxiety monitoring and countermeasures will likely be needed in the completely new and dangerous environment of deep space. Mild episodes of depression and anxiety as well as acute episodes of significant behavioral disruption are likely to happen. Enabling the crew with behavioral tools for preparedness, early detection and timely intervention will be essential.
  • Methods for optimizing asynchronous communications through conversational AI are sought. Astronauts often say a phone call home provides tremendous support in mitigating behavioral health risks.  Travel to Mars—with one-way communications delays of 3-22 minutes will make such real-time phone call conversations extremely difficult. Strategies and technical solutions which will approximate the benefits of real-time connections are being sought.
  • Brain-computer interfaces for enhancing memory and/or cognitive performance.
  • Investigating how approaches to improve health span may be relevant to behavioral health and performance.
  • Other radically different tools or approaches.


Applicants may request $100,000 to $500,000 per award in non-dilutive capital, intended to support one year’s work to advance the technology. Companies can learn more about this opportunity by visiting TRISH’s Grant Research Integrated Dashboard. Full proposals are due by 5 p.m. EST, June 26, 2020.


Sign up to be notified of future TRISH solicitations.




About The Translational Research Institute for Space Health

The Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH) leads a national effort in translating cutting-edge terrestrial research into applied risk mitigation strategies for the human exploration of deep space. Founded in 2016, TRISH works in parternership with NASA’s Human Research Program through a cooperative agreement. TRISH is a consortium led by Baylor College of Medicine and includes the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For more information visit


SpaceRef staff editor.