High Versus Low Crewmember Autonomy in Space Simulation Environments

  • Nick Kanas
  • Stephanie Saylor
  • Matthew Harris
  • Thomas Neylan
  • Jennifer Boyd
  • Daniel S. Weiss
  • Pamela Baskin
  • Colleen Cook
  • Charles Marmar
Chapter
Part of the Space Technology Library book series (SPTL, volume 29)

Abstract

Given the long distances involved and the kinds of activities planned, crewmembers participating in long-duration exploratory space missions such as an expedition to Mars will have more autonomy than in previous space missions. In order to study the impact of high versus low crew autonomy on crewmembers and the crew–mission control interaction, we conducted a series of pilot studies involving three space simulation settings: NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) missions, the Haughton-Mars Project, and the pilot phase of the Mars500 Program. As in our previous on-orbit studies on the Mir and International Space Station, crew and mission control subjects working in missions involving these three settings completed a weekly study questionnaire that assessed mood and interpersonal interactions using the Profile of Mood States, the Group Environment Scale, and the Work Environment Scale. The Mars500 pilot study also directly assessed individual and group autonomy. In these studies, high autonomy periods were those where crewmembers planned much of their work schedule, whereas low autonomy periods were those where mission control personnel developed the schedule, much as happens now during actual space flight conditions. Our results suggested that high work autonomy was well-received by the crews, mission goals were accomplished, and there were no adverse effects. During high autonomy periods, crewmember mood was generally reported as being better and creativity was higher, but mission control personnel reported some confusion about their work role. The crewmember group environment in the Mars500 pilot study was dependent on the nationality mix. Despite scoring lower in work pressure overall, the four Russian crewmembers reported a greater rise in work pressure from low to high autonomy than the two Europeans. In contrast, the European crewmembers reported a greater rise in dysphoric mood in going from low to high autonomy, whereas the Russians’ emotional state remained the same or slightly improved. It is time to study the effects of high autonomy with larger subject samples during actual space missions on-orbit in preparation for future exploratory missions, where high autonomy will be the norm.

Keywords

International Space Station Work Pressure Social Climate Autonomy Condition Mission Control 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Figures 12.2 and 12.3 and parts of this chapter were presented at the Workshop on Human Behaviour and Performance in Analog Environments and Simulations, ESA/ESTEC, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, December 7–8, 2009. The work reported in this chapter was funded by NASA (Contract numbers NCC-9-0161 and NNJ05HG01A) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (Contract number NCC-9-58-NBPF00005). The authors would like to thank the Institute for Biomedical Problems in Moscow for its support of our participation in the Mars500 Program’s 105-day study.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nick Kanas
    • 1
  • Stephanie Saylor
    • 1
  • Matthew Harris
    • 1
  • Thomas Neylan
    • 1
  • Jennifer Boyd
    • 1
  • Daniel S. Weiss
    • 1
  • Pamela Baskin
    • 2
  • Colleen Cook
    • 1
  • Charles Marmar
    • 3
  1. 1.University of California, San Francisco, and Veterans Affairs Medical CenterSan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.WyleIntegrated Science and Engineering GroupHoustonUSA
  3. 3.New York University Medical CenterNew YorkUSA

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