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Virtual Assistant for Spacecraft Anomaly Treatment during Long Duration Exploration Missions (80NSSC19K0656)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Human factors
Technology development
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Future exploration missions will require higher degrees of autonomy due to longer communication delays and mission durations. Consequently, ground support will be less effective for urgent tasks, such as identifying and resolving time-sensitive anomalies that appear during flight operations. For example, in case of a leaky fuel line or valve, the round-trip communication delay time to Mars may be too long to intervene. Providing the crew with onboard support to identify and resolve such anomalies in a timely manner is crucial to ensure their safety. The use of Virtual Assistants (VA) is recommended to provide such support.

The research objective of this study is to investigate the impact of using a VA to support crew members in the context of anomaly treatment during Long Duration Exploration Missions (LDEM), when ground support will be limited. This study will specifically investigate the impact of different VA capabilities related to troubleshooting anomalies on several human- related metrics including human performance, cognitive workload (CW), situational awareness (SA), and trust.

The specific research aims of this proposal are as follows:

  1. Measure the impact of the baseline VA (with question answering, but without the ability to engage in dialogue or take initiative) on performance, CW, SA, and trust in a laboratory environment
  2. Measure the impact of the enhanced VA (providing explanations and taking initiative) on performance, CW, SA, and trust in a laboratory environment
  3. Deploy and validate the system in an analog environment

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Cognitive workload
Situational awareness

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 60 06/24/2019 10/03/2019 101 days
HERA Campaign 6 10/01/2021 In progress

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Proposal Date
Proposal Source
International Space Station (ISS)