Between daily living, telemedicine activities and moon-walking simulations, participants in the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 9 project helped National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) researchers study performance ability, problem-solving and team cohesion issues that could affect long-duration space flights.
“The NEEMO undersea mission is a similar experience in key ways to what future space travelers might encounter,” said Dr. David Dinges, team leader of NSBRI’s Neurobehavioral and Psychosocial Factors Team and principal investigator on the project. “Crew members live and work together in a small space, isolated from the outside world, and must effectively perform difficult tasks at a high level of alertness, both as individuals and a team.”
Physician astronaut, Dr. Dave Williams of Canada, led the NEEMO undersea excursion in Aquarius off the Florida coast. Aquarius, the only underwater laboratory in the world, is owned and funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and operated by the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Two additional astronauts, Nicole Stott and Ron Garan, and Dr. Tim Broderick, a physician at the University of Cincinnati, rounded out the crew. Jim Buckley and Ross Hein of UNCW provided undersea engineering support.
The NSBRI study used surveys, physiologic sensors, video analysis, cognitive tests, journaling and the testing of new technologies designed for isolated conditions. One such technology involved computer recognition of participants’ facial expressions, recorded on video during telemedicine activities, to inconspicuously detect levels of psychological distress. Refining behavior-monitoring technologies so that astronauts and aquanauts barely notice them is a goal of the project.
“Each experiment is minimally demanding and quick, requiring only a few minutes on most days,” Dinges said.
While the NEEMO 9 crew members practiced remote surgical techniques, worked with medical robotics and prepared for extra-vehicular activities (EVA), their interaction with each other and with NEEMO’s Mission Control was filmed and recorded. “We’re interested in seeing how they reacted to challenges, made decisions and solved problems, but the most valuable element was capturing lessons learned from every task,” said Dinges, Director of the Unit for Experimental Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Professor of Psychology.
Participants recorded thoughts and experiences in daily journals, highlighting what they wanted future astronauts and aquanauts to know about the technologies and protocols being tested.
“Even with extensive planning, little glitches occur with devices used in an underwater space. Part of our project asked crew members to communicate how well the procedures and technologies worked in this kind of environment,” Dinges said. “What did the aquanauts think of them? How were they using the equipment? What were their reactions to wearing certain technologies and responding to others? Were they easy to use and helpful? Their feedback is important data.”
To assess physiologic reactions to the isolated environment, crew members provided saliva samples for analysis of cortisol and stress levels and wore a sensor vest to record how their body was reacting physiologically to the experience. Another component addressed sleep and circadian rhythm disruption. Participants wore a watch-like device that recorded sleep/wake activity patterns and light exposure. A fourth component involved performing a battery of cognitive tests before and after scheduled tasks and EVAs. Data collected from each of the study’s components will be analyzed by NSBRI researchers post-mission.
The project aims to refine real-time behavior monitoring and develop models that predict how crews might perform under remote conditions. “Ultimately, the measurements in this project will provide much needed feasibility information on how effectively we can measure individual and group behavior and performance in extreme environments. From there, we can develop technology that will help maintain an astronaut’s ability to perform in space,” Dinges said.
Lauren Hammit | EurekAlert!
Cancer diagnosis: no more needles?
25.05.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Less is more? Gene switch for healthy aging found
25.05.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Alternsforschung - Fritz-Lipmann-Institut e.V. (FLI)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences