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Assessment of Programs in Space Biology and Medicine 1991 4 Behavior, Performance, and Human Factors All the major reports over the past decade on research needs for life sciences in support of human spaceflight—Life Beyond the Earth's Environment, The Biology of Living Organisms in Space; A Strategy for Space Biology and Medical Science for the 1980s and 1990s; Leadership and America's Future in Space (NASA, A Report to the Administrator by Sally K. Ride, August 1987); Exploring the Living Universe—A Strategy for Space Life Sciences (NASA, Washington, D.C., June 1988), and Space Science in the Twenty-First Century—Imperatives for a New Decade-Overview and Life Sciences—recognize problems in human behavior during long-duration missions such as Freedom, a manned lunar base, and a Martian outpost. It is not known whether missions longer than one year are endurable with present environments and organizations. Additional knowledge may be critical to enable such missions. Critical issues are the selection and training of candidates for spaceflight, the composition of crews, the physical characteristics of the spacecraft, and the organization and structure of missions including the requirements for successful leadership and how to employ automation effectively while providing meaningful work and optimizing performance and satisfaction in work. Social issues may be critical, limiting factors in the exploration of space. Small groups of individuals have to operate effectively and harmoniously for prolonged periods, separated from families and customary sources of support. Circadian (i.e., 24 hr) rhythms in the space environment need to be investigated to ensure maximum health, productivity, and performance. STATUS OF DISCIPLINES Knowledge of the psychological principles needed to optimize the behavioral effectiveness of individuals in groups in demanding situations is primitive. The recognition that such knowledge can be acquired by a systematic, experimental approach is recent. Findings have not had time to have major
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impact on the design and execution of space programs. Organizational influences on flight crew performance and attitudes are now being investigated by NASA's Ames Research Center (ARC). Training strategies to improve the quality of group decision making, information transfer, and leadership are also under study in civil and military aviation. These studies provide a starting point for comparable research in spaceflight. Most research to date has studied individuals and groups over relatively short periods of time. Longitudinal studies of individuals and groups over extended periods are needed. Circadian rhythms continue in space but rhythm disturbances in plants and animals, including humans, have been noted. Future studies are required to determine whether the changes have adverse effects on crew performance and health, and to determine the most optimal environmental conditions for maintaining synchronization of circadian rhythms. MAJOR SCIENTIFIC GOALS The major goals are to optimize the efficiency, safety, and satisfaction of crews in long-term spaceflight by discovering how to optimize (1) the environment of spacecraft, (2) human interfaces with equipment, (3) work and leisure schedules, (4) social organization, and (5) selection and training of crews. PROGRESS Research employing appropriate methods that was recommended in the Goldberg Strategy is now in progress. However, progress has been slow, commensurate with the minimal resources provided, especially on group and organizational factors. As mandated by the Aviation Safety Research Act of 1988, behavioral science research in aviation is being supported by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as well as NASA. Congressional support for research is likely to continue in the aviation area. Although useful, such studies cannot provide all of the information needed for long-duration missions. Neither the NSF nor the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will support the major part of the research needed in this area. Opportunities for experimentation in actual spaceflight will always be extremely limited. Therefore, a sound basis must be developed in ground-based studies in a variety of research settings. It is self-evident that assessment of
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factors that will maintain efficiency and satisfactions in small groups confined for 3 or 4 years will necessitate studies on groups confined for 3 or 4 years. Such studies should be completed on Earth before missions of such duration are conducted, or even planned, in space so that information can guide designs of environment and life schedules. It is disappointing that there do not seem to be plans in NASA to even start working toward such long-term confinements. The results from analog settings of both laboratory and field experiments must then be validated in operational environments. Environmental Factors Modest investigations continue on influences of features of spacecraft design on performance and adjustment. Research into the impact of automation on operator performance and reactions is supported in the Aerospace Human Factors Division at NASA-ARC. The object is to determine the most effective combinations of automation and control by human operators. Individual Factors Investigations into ability, personality, and motivational factors relevant to crew selection are under way at ARC in aviation and at Johnson Space Center in space research. A common core of personality attributes is under investigation. These factors have been validated as critical to air transport crew effectiveness. In space-related investigations, an experimental battery of tests was administered to applicants for the most recent class of astronauts and is being contrasted with results obtained using clinical measures. The goal is to move beyond the process of screening out individuals exhibiting significant psychopathology toward selection based on a psychological profile associated with excellence in performance and adjustment. Behavioral criteria for selection are under development and will be used within the astronaut corps to validate the constructs under consideration. This work follows recommendations made in the Goldberg Strategy and is the first attempt to develop more precise methods of selection for spaceflight. Many studies have been carried out to determine the optimum work schedules for maximizing human performance under normal conditions on Earth. Aviation research is examining crew fatigue and scheduling issues in both short- haul and transmeridian flights. Ames is sponsoring research into cognitive functions relevant to crew performance as part of its aviation human factors program. The results should have applications in spaceflight, but much further research and validation are necessary. In particular, it is crucial to determine whether task performance changes when individuals are fatigued and/or face various stressors.
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Group and Organizational Factors A study of the organization and communications practices among teams working at Kennedy Space Center on the integration of payloads for orbiters is being conducted by ARC. Work is beginning on multinational team behavior at Johnson Space Center. With the exception of these studies and work noted in aviation, the topic remains unexplored. Circadian Rhythms Studies on the D-1 mission and STS-9 clearly demonstrated that circadian rhythms persist in space but show abnormal amplitudes and phase relationships to the light-dark cycle. Such abnormalities have been observed in plants, rats, and monkeys. "Sleep and Circadian Rhythms" was included in the NASA Announcement of Opportunity for IML-2. In addition, NASA sponsored a July 1990 workshop on circadian rhythms and space. LACK OF PROGRESS Historically, the lack of progress in space-related behavioral research has been due to a lack of research funding and to the limited access to astronauts for such studies. The importance of psychological factors for effective long-duration spaceflight is increasingly accepted, but financial support continues to be at a very low level. Most research has explored only a single domain of behavior (e.g., effects of fatigue or personality on a particular performance). Communication and collaboration across subdisciplines to consider the multiple determinants of reactions need to be fostered to permit integration. Although NASA has sponsored some interchange among investigators (e.g., the Life Sciences in Space Symposium, June 1987), the effort has been insufficient to develop comprehensive approaches to research. In space and other operational settings, psychological factors are likely to interact in complex ways to determine individual and group reactions. Systematic studies in both laboratory and operational settings need to be increased. Issues include scheduling, authority structure, and provision of meaningful work activities for crews on long-duration missions. One indicator that behavioral issues are not fully integrated into many research programs comes from funded research into potential problems associated with increasing the duration of STS flights (letter to Administrator Truly, NASA, regarding the extended duration orbiter medical program, December 20, 1989). Questions raised about difficulties associated with
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increasing mission duration center on the degradation of crew ability to land the orbiter successfully and to egress unaided after longer periods in orbit. The proposed program of research concentrates on standard biomedical measures. While there is recognition of the fact that the critical outcome is behavioral, the only actions undertaken have been to start superficial task analyses of the landing and egress behaviors. There is a need to develop behavioral criteria that reflect these tasks and to relate performance in these areas to biomedical indices isolated in either flight or ground-based studies. The proposed Biomedical Monitoring and Countermeasures Project (BMAC) is an expansion and extension of the EDO medical program. This is a newly organized project that is aimed at developing research to optimize crew performance on Freedom. Critical factors for BMAC are mental and social well-being, normal body state, and normal risk levels. A lack of useful behavioral data from EDO has the potential of limiting the effectiveness of BMAC. Studies on small groups confined in close quarters can be conducted at any convenient location and can mimic all environmental features of spaceflight except microgravity. A challenge is to develop conditions to enable subjects to remain effective and satisfied during confinement for increasingly long periods, up to as long as three or four years. It is likely that the provision of meaningful, indeed engrossing, work for a considerable part of each day will be of great importance. Development of conditions will be iterative and hence very time- consuming. Only when extensive studies have elucidated major factors maintaining performance and satisfaction for long periods in confinement will it be necessary to conduct studies in more expensive and inconvenient sites such as the seabed or Antarctica, which because they are more inescapable, have more prima facie validity. Chances to collect opportunistic data in isolated, natural settings should not, of course, be neglected. Final validation of systems for long- term spaceflight will come only when long voyages are actually made, just as proof of long-term survival in microgravity had to wait for prolonged orbital flights. The research on Earth will surely establish factors that enhance effectiveness, so justifying the considerable expense of ground-based studies. Few attempts have been made to follow human circadian rhythms in space in any detailed fashion. While isolated nights of sleep have been recorded on three Spacelab missions, rhythms in the sleep-wake cycle have not been monitored in space, and very little is known about other circadian functions in the space environment, particularly the circadian patterns of various hormones and/or metabolic productivity.