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Mental Workload and Performance Experiment (15-IML-1)
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Human factors
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Whether on Earth or in space, people tend to work more productively in settings designed for efficiency and comfort. Because well-designed accommodations enhance performance and contribute to congenial relationships among coworkers, the living and working areas of spacecraft used during long-term missions assume particular importance. Also, the complexity of future Space Stations require crewmembers to be capable of supervising the on board electronic logistics. It is necessary to design workstations with efficient computer display formats and input devices.

To optimize the setting for interactions between astronauts and on board computer control systems were the main objective of the Mental Workload and Performance Experiment (MWPE). The experiment focused on motor and cognitive skills associated with such interactions, and designed to understand the demands placed on the astronaut’s mental and physical capabilities during space flight and particularly while operating graphic input devices such as cursor keys, joysticks, and trackballs.

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Lathan CE, Newman DJ. Memory processes and motor control during a space simulation mission. IEEE Trans Syst Man Cybern C Appl Rev. 1999 Aug;29(3):387-94.[]

Lathan CE, Newman DJ. Quantification of human performance in extreme environments.

Newman DJ, Bussolari SR. Dual-task performance on an interactive human/computer space shuttle flight experiment. Biomed Sci Instrum. 1990;26:213-25.[]

Newman DJ. Ground-based results of the Mental Workload and Performance Experiment (MWPE). In: Proceedings of the Twenty-Third Annual Conference on Manual Control, Cambridge, MA, June 1988.

Work schedule tolerance
Human engineering
Task performance and analysis

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Data Information
Data Availability
Archive is complete. All data sets are on the Web site.
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Accuracy of movement
Control of movement
Distance of target
Movement time
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
STS-42 01/22/1992 01/30/1992 8 days

Additional Information
Other Key People
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Terry Hill
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
Hardware Items