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EXPERIMENT INFORMATION

Protocols for Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations: Communication Analysis (Com_Analysis)
Principal Investigators
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Description
OBJECTIVES:
Effective and efficient communication between Mission Control and space crews is essential for successful task performance and mission safety. The importance of team communication is heightened when unforeseen problems arise, such as system failures that are time-critical and require extensive coordination and collaboration between space and ground crews. During long-duration missions and missions beyond Low Earth Orbit, space-ground communications will involve delays up to 20 minutes one-way, a reality that poses a formidable challenge to team communication and task performance. The overall aim of this study was to develop and validate medium-specific communication protocols that enable flight controllers and space crews to establish and maintain common ground (i.e., mutual task and situation awareness) and coordinate problem solutions in response to different operational tasks during periods of communication delays. This study had the following specific aims:

  1. Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks versus tasks requiring analysis and decision making, and different communication media (voice vs. text).
  2. Develop and validate communication protocols to support joint problem solving and decision making by mission controllers and space crews during periods of asynchronous communication. To achieve these objectives several ground-based studies were conducted using a space analog and laboratory setting.

The first set of studies aimed to determine how transmission delays of various lengths impact team communication and performance under different media conditions. Findings then informed the design of medium-specific communication protocols. Their feasibility for space missions was assessed in two analog environments, NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) and NASA’s Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO). A complimentary laboratory study was conducted to examine whether the availability of protocols enhanced remote team members’ communication and task performance during periods of communication delay.


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Publications
Fischer U, Miller C, Morrow D, Mosier K, Orasanu J, and Veinott B. Exploring communication in remote teams: Issues and methods. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2013 September; 57(1):309-13. 57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, September 30-October 4, 2013.

Fischer U, Mosier K, and Orasanu J. The impact of transmission delays on Mission Control-Space Crew communication. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2013 September; 57(1):1372-6. 57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, September 30-October 4, 2013.

Fischer U and Mosier K. The impact of communication delay and medium on team performance and communication in distributed teams. Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2014 September; 58(1):115-9. 58th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Chicago, IL, October 27-31, 2014.

Fischer, U and Mosier, K. Communication protocols to support collaboration in distributed teams under asynchronous conditions. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 59th Annual Meeting (pp.1-5). 2015. Santa Monica, CA.

Fischer, U, Mosier, K, and Orasanu, J. The impact of transmission delays on Mission Control – Space Crew communication. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 57th Annual Meeting (pp. 1372-1376). 2013. Santa Monica, CA.

Gonzalez, K, Mosier, KL, Lam, J, and Fischer, U. Characteristics impacting teamwork and performance for space operations. In Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 59th Annual Meeting 2015. (pp. 936-940). Santa Monica, CA.

Keywords
Behavior
Communication

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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. Data sets are not publicly available but can be requested.
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Parameters
Communication delays
Task performance
Team communication

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Ground 05/01/2009 In Progress
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
NEEMO 18 07/21/2014 07/29/2014 9 days
NEEMO 19 09/07/2014 09/13/2014 7 days

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: https://humanresearchroadmap.nasa.gov/

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Eric Gallagher
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
NNX12AR19G
Proposal Date
09/06/2012
Proposal Source
2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA