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Behavioral Issues Associated with Long Duration Space Missions: Review of Astronaut Journals (ILSRA-2001-104)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Behavior and performance
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

(2003 - 2010): The Journals experiment was a focused study of human factors, behavior, and performance issues during expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS). The investigator has studied conditions analogous to space craft in previous projects, including a two-year study (conducted for NASA with the cooperation of the European Space Agency and the French Polar Institute) in which content analyses were performed of diaries maintained by the station leaders and physicians at the Antarctic and South Indian Ocean remote duty stations. That study provided the first rank-ordering of the behavioral issues in terms of importance associated with isolation and confinement, based on quantitative data. This experiment used the same content evaluation techniques on journals kept by ISS crew personnel during ISS expeditions.

The experiment tested the hypothesis that the analogous conditions could provide an acceptable model for space craft (i.e., to validate or refute the results of the previous study). Specifically, the study was designed to 1)evaluate how isolation and confinement on long duration space missions can affect crew health and morale, which are important factors that can influence mission success, 2) convert behavioral and human factors data contained in journal entries into quantitative data on the importance of the various behavioral issues involved in long-duration isolation and confinement, and 3) systematically analyze the content of astronaut journals in order to enhance the design of procedures and equipment to support human performance during exploration of the moon and Mars.

(2011 - forward): The original study period of the Journals experiment (2003-2010) tested the hypothesis that the analog conditions provided an acceptable model for space operations. Substantial support for the hypothesis was found, but ISS crew size has increased since then. The Journals experiment is being continued to collect data from members of larger crews to determine if there are differences in behavioral issues that could be attributed to crew size.

The objective of the study extension is to obtain behavioral and human factors data relevant to the design of equipment and procedures to support adjustment and sustained human performance during extended duration isolation and confinement.

For the continuation of the experiment with 10 additional subjects, the specific objectives of the proposed study are to 1) collect data concerning the relevant behavioral factors from 10 additional astronauts while serving as members of 6-person crews onboard the ISS; 2) compare the experiences reported by members of larger crews to those of the two and three-person crews who participated in the original journals study; 3) assess the effects of other changes that have been implemented since the journals study concluded (e.g., cupola, sleep chambers, procedures); 4) further test the third quarter phenomenon; and 5) provide a safe and constructive outlet for the frustration and irritation that usually accompany isolated and confined living. The ultimate objective of the study is to provide data-driven recommendations to inform decisions concerning the priorities that should be placed on the various behavioral issues to prepare for and manage future space expeditions. Study results can be applied to improve selection, training, support, scheduling, and the design of equipment and procedures.

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Stuster J. Behavioral Issues Associated with Long-Duration Space Expeditions: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals. Houston, TX: NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, 62 p., 2010. NASA TM-2010-216130.[NTRS]

Behavioral medicine
Behavioral symptoms

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Data Information
Data Availability
Archiving in Progress. Some data exist for this experiment.
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Actual experience, equipment problems
Actual experience, inter-personal problems
Actual experience, mental difficulty
Actual experience, organizational problems
Actual experience, physical difficulty
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Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
Expedition 10 10/13/2004 04/24/2005 193 days
Expedition 11 04/14/2005 10/10/2005 179 days
Expedition 12 09/30/2005 04/30/2006 180 days
Expedition 13 03/22/2006 09/24/2006 186 days
Expedition 14 09/18/2006 04/21/2007 215 days
Expedition 15 04/07/2007 10/21/2007 197 days
Expedition 16 10/10/2007 04/19/2008 192 days
Expedition 17 04/08/2008 10/23/2008 198 days
Expedition 18 10/12/2008 04/17/2009 187 days
Expedition 29 09/16/2011 11/21/2011 40 days
Expedition 30 11/14/2011 04/27/2012 166 days
Expedition 31 04/27/2012 07/01/2012 65 days
Expedition 32 07/01/2012 09/16/2012 78 days
Expedition 33 09/16/2012 11/18/2012 63 days
Expedition 34 11/18/2012 03/15/2013 117 days
Expedition 35 03/15/2013 05/13/2013 58 days
Expedition 37 09/10/2013 11/10/2013 61 days
Expedition 38 11/10/2013 03/10/2014 120 days
Expedition 39 03/10/2014 05/13/2014 64 days
Expedition 40 05/13/2014 09/10/2014 133 days
Expedition 41 09/10/2014 11/09/2014 29 days
Expedition 42 11/10/2014 03/11/2015 121 days
Expedition 43 03/11/2015 06/10/2015 91 days
Expedition 44 06/10/2015 09/11/2015 93 days
Expedition 45 09/11/2015 12/11/2015 91 days
Expedition 46 12/11/2015 03/02/2016 82 days
Expedition 8 10/18/2003 04/29/2004 195 days
Expedition 9 04/18/2004 10/23/2004 188 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:

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Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Alternate Experiment Name
Proposal Date
Proposal Source