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Optical Computer Recognition of Stress, Affect and Fatigue in Space Flight (OCR_Validation)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

The overarching objective of this research was to refine entirely non-obtrusive objective means of detecting and mitigating cognitive performance deficits, stress, fatigue, anxiety, and depression for the operational setting of space flight, and in doing so, provide an effective method to predict, detect, and assess decrements in behavioral health and fatigue which may negatively affect performance during space flight missions. Astronauts must maintain high-level performance while experiencing demanding workload/work schedules, extreme environmental risks, and psychosocial stressors in space (e.g., isolation, confinement). Performance during space flight can be compromised by stress, negative emotions, and fatigue. This project focused on a way to detect these behavioral states during long-duration missions through the development and validation of an objective, unobtrusive, computational model-based tracker using optical computer recognition (OCR) that reliably identifies facial expressions of negative, neutral, and positive emotions, and fatigue evident in slow eyelid closures. The feasibility of the technology was tested in the NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility.

This study had the following specific aims:

  1. Test the technical feasibility of acquiring facial video data of astronaut-surrogates living and working in a space analog facility for OCR analyses.
  2. Determine the validity of OCR algorithm accuracy for detecting positive and negative facial expressions in the HERA space flight analog.
  3. Determine the validity of OCR algorithm accuracy for detecting oculomotor fatigue in the HERA space flight analog.
  4. Identify changes or improvements to the OCR system to optimize functionality.

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Basner M, Dinges DF, Mollicone DJ, Savelev I, Ecker AJ, Di Antonio A, Jones CW, Hyder E, Kan K, Morukov BV, and Sutton JP. Psychological and behavioral changes during confinement in a 520-day simulated interplanetary mission to Mars. PLoS One. 2014. March 27; 9(3):e93298. []

Yu X, Huang J, Zhang S, Yan W, and Metaxas D. Pose-free facial landmark fitting via optimized part mixtures and cascaded deformable shape model. 2013 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV). 2013:1944-51. (2013 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision (ICCV), Sydney, Australia, December 1-8, 2013) [DOI]


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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. No data sets are available for this experiment. Please Contact LSDA if you know of available data for this investigation.

Facial displays
Sleep duration
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
HERA Campaign 1 02/27/2014 09/11/2014 Four 7-day missions
HERA Campaign 2 01/30/2015 08/27/2015 Four 14-day missions
HERA Campaign 3 01/26/2016 10/19/2016 Four 30-day missions

Human Research Program (HRP) Human Research Roadmap (HRR) Information
Crew health and performance is critical to successful human exploration beyond low Earth orbit. The Human Research Program (HRP) investigates and mitigates the highest risks to human health and performance, providing essential countermeasures and technologies for human space exploration. Risks include physiological and performance effects from hazards such as radiation, altered gravity, and hostile environments, as well as unique challenges in medical support, human factors, and behavioral health support. The HRP utilizes an Integrated Research Plan (IRP) to identify the approach and research activities planned to address these risks, which are assigned to specific Elements within the program. The Human Research Roadmap is the web-based tool for communicating the IRP content.

The Human Research Roadmap is located at:

+ Click here for information of how this experiment is contributing to the HRP's path for risk reduction.

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Pamela A. Bieri
Institutional Support
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)
Alternate Experiment Name
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
2012 Crew Health NNJ12ZSA