The behavioral health of the crew during a mission to Mars could be challenging due to the conditions required by the flight. However, there is no standardized method to detect and quantify the magnitude of the risk or its likelihood. The overarching goal of this project is to build on a successful record of unobtrusive, software-based measurement of behavioral health indicators (e.g. mood, cognitive function, physical and mental fatigue, sleep quality) to develop an integrated standardized suite of behavioral health measurements tools that would be feasible to implement within the constraints of space flight research, ground-based analogs (both short- and long-duration), and prolonged missions in isolated, confined, and extreme environments lasting up to 12 months or longer.
The suite of behavioral medicine measures investigators are developing will be integrated on an electronic platform for their standardized use in ground analogs relevant to the space flight context (i.e., Standardized Behavioral Measures Tool or “Behavioral Core Measures”). It will include (a) the Cognition battery, (b) Visual Analog Scales (VAS) of perceived mental and physical exhaustion, fatigue, stress, workload, conflict and sleep quality, (c) actigraphy for monitoring sleep/wake activity, (d) an audio journal, (e) the ROBoT task as an operational performance measure, and (f) Team measures. The “Behavioral Core Measures” will be evaluated for its measurement feasibility, flexibility, and acceptability during post-mission assessments in the participants studied in Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), Neumayer Station III in Antarctica, and on the International Space Station (ISS). It will be improved as needed, and an operational procedures document will be developed to make it convenient for detecting the incident rate of behavioral health risks in space and on Earth.
HERA will serve as the short-duration space analog environment. Investigators will implement the Behavioral Core Measures and test its feasibility, flexibility, and acceptability during four 30-day campaigns in 2016.
Neumayer Station III will serve as the long-duration space analog environment, such as those that will be required for human travel to Mars. Investigators will implement the Behavioral Core Measures and test its feasibility, flexibility, and acceptability during the winter over in years 2 and 3 of this study.
Investigators will implement the Behavioral Core Measures during either six or 12 months of ISS missions launching in year 3 of the study, to assess feasibility, flexibility, and acceptability of the Behavioral Core Measures. One Behavioral Core Measures administration is scheduled to be completed preflight, inflight, and post flight.
This experiment is in progress. Results will be available at a later date.