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Project Title:  Assessing the Impact of Communication Delay on Behavioral Health and Performance: An Examination of Autonomous Operations Utilizing the International Space Station Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2016 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/05/2012  
End Date: 09/30/2016  
Task Last Updated: 11/05/2016 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Palinkas, Lawrence  Ph.D. / University of Southern California 
Address:  School of Social Work 
MRF 339 
Los Angeles , CA 90089-0411 
Email: palinkas@usc.edu 
Phone: 858 922-7265  
Congressional District: 33 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: University of Southern California 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Chou, Chih-ping  University of Southern California 
Vessey, William  Ph.D. Wyle/NASA Johnson Space Center 
Leveton, Lauren  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Kintz, Natalie  University of Southern California 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR21A 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR21A 
Project Type: FLIGHT 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Bmed:Risk of Adverse Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
(3) Train:Risk of Performance Errors Due to Training Deficiencies
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed08:We need to understand how personal relations/interactions (family, friends and colleagues) affect astronauts’ behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (element change per IRP Rev H)
(2) SHFE-TRAIN-02:We need to identify effective methods and tools that can be used to train for long-duration, long-distance space missions. (IRP Rev F. Previously: How do we develop training methods and tools for space medical application if time is minimal?)
(3) Team Gap 01:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(4) Team Gap 03:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function for all phases of autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(5) Team Gap 05:We need to identify validated ground-based training methods that can be both preparatory and continuing to maintain team function in autonomous, long duration, and/or distance exploration mission (IRP Rev E)
(6) Team Gap 06:We need to identify methods to support and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy during long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: ISS

NOTE: End date changed to 9/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 7/18/16)

NOTE: End date is now 6/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/8/15)

NOTE: Period of performance corrected to 9/5/2012-9/4/2015 per NSSC information (Ed., 4/4/2013)

Task Description: Deep space explorations will involve significant delays in communication to and from Earth that will likely impact individual and team outcomes. However, the extent of these impacts and the appropriate countermeasures for their mitigation remain largely unknown. This study utilized the International Space Station (ISS), a high-fidelity analog for deep space, as a research platform to assess the impact of communication delays on individual and team performance, mood, and behavior. Three astronauts on the ISS and 18 mission support personnel performed tasks with and without communication delays (50-second one-way) during a mission lasting 166 days. Self-reported assessments of individual and team performance and mood were obtained after each task. Secondary outcomes included communication quality and task autonomy. Qualitative data from post-mission interviews with astronauts were used to validate and expand on quantitative data, and to elicit recommendations for countermeasures. Crew well-being and communication quality were significantly reduced in communication delay tasks compared to control. Communication delays were also significantly associated with increased individual stress/frustration. Qualitative data suggest communication delays impacted operational outcomes (i.e., task efficiency), teamwork processes (i.e., team/task coordination), and mood (i.e., stress/frustration), particularly when tasks involved high task-related communication demands, either because of poor communication strategies or low crew autonomy. Training, teamwork, and technology-focused countermeasures were identified to mitigate or prevent adverse impacts.

Rationale for HRP Directed Research: This research is directed because NASA must define complete scientific activities in a short time and there is insufficient time to issue a solicitation.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Overall, these data suggest communication delays impacted operational outcomes (i.e., task efficiency), teamwork processes (i.e., team coordination/cohesion), and individual well-being (i.e., stress/frustration), especially when tasks involved a high level of back-and-forth communications. Training, teamwork, and technology-focused countermeasures that increase crew autonomy and decrease task-related communication demand may help prevent or mitigate adverse impacts. Understanding the impacts of communication delays on the ISS may benefit the characterization of risk of communication delay on performance and well-being, the selection and composition of teams engaging in asynchronous communication, the development of countermeasures to support autonomous operations, and the future of team communication and coordination around the world.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2016 
Task Progress: This study examined how interdependent teams (such as those with members in the field and at home base) interact and perform tasks with and without delays in communications between the team elements. It had three specific aims: 1) determine the feasibility and acceptability of conducting a study of communication delays on the ISS; 2) determine if there is an association between delays in communication, individual and team performance, and well-being; and 3) determine whether these associations are influenced by task complexity (i.e., criticality and novelty), task-related communication demands, communication quality, and task autonomy.

The study participants included three astronauts on the ISS (two American crewmembers and one European crewmember) and 18 participating mission support personnel who were asked to perform 10 tasks (6 without a delay in communication and 4 with a 50-second one-way delay) during a mission lasting more than 160 days. The tasks performed by the teams varied along two dimensions: 1) those that are either critical or not critical (“criticality”) and 2) those that are either novel or familiar (“novelty”). Tasks included variations in both dimensions as it was assumed that highly novel and highly critical tasks are similar to those that a team may encounter during a long duration mission in which they have no prior training but must address. After each task, participating ISS crewmembers and mission support personnel were asked to complete post-task questionnaires that included questions about individual and team behavior, performance, and mood. This study provided a preliminary understanding of the impact of communication delays on individual and team performance and well-being, as well as insight into how teams perform and interact under autonomous conditions in the analog environment most comparable to deep space.

Post-task assessments were completed by participating astronauts 100% (22/22) of the time, and by participating mission control personnel 83.3% of the time (15/18). Qualitative analysis of post-mission interviews found the study to be important and acceptable to the three astronauts. However, they also reported the study was limited in the number and type of tasks included, limitations in survey questions, and preference for open-ended to scaled items.

Crew well-being and communication quality were significantly reduced in communication delay tasks compared to control. Communication delays were also significantly associated with increased stress/frustration. Qualitative data suggest communication delays impacted operational outcomes (i.e., task efficiency), teamwork processes (i.e., team/task coordination), and mood (i.e., stress/frustration), particularly when tasks involved high task-related communication demands, either because of poor communication strategies or low crew autonomy. Training, teamwork, and technology-focused countermeasures were identified to mitigate or prevent adverse impacts.

Results from this study suggest task novelty may moderate the relationships between communication delays and individual and crew performance, and communication quality. However, contrary to our expectations, the inverse relationships between communication delays and crew performance and communication quality were stronger in low compared to high novel tasks. Furthermore, there was a trend for individual performance to improve in communication delay compared to control conditions in high novel tasks. In low novel tasks, participants may have assumed a shared situational model was established, and thus, in the absence of any formal communication delay training, may have inappropriately used minimal or ambiguous responses while performing the task. For example, one crewmember described his experience performing a standard weekly cleaning activity (low novel) with a communication delay, “So you call down and you ask them (mission support team) to disable smoke detection, and then you kind of forget that you even called…And then a minute later a call comes up and just says, OK, smoke detection has been disabled. And the crew is like, well I don’t know, is it Node 1, is it Node 3, what did we even call for?” On the other hand, team members may have been more engaged in and complete with their communications while performing highly novel tasks, and this proactive approach may have mitigated potential adverse impacts. Furthermore, qualitative feedback from the ISS crewmembers indicated detailed task procedures were provided for some of the high novel tasks. For example, one crewmember stated, “For each complicated step, we had short videos embedded in the procedures to help us. I think those were critical to our overall execution of the task.” Accordingly, detailed task procedures may mitigate or prevent adverse impacts of communication delays on individual and team outcomes during deep space explorations.

In contrast, task criticality did not moderate the relationship between communication delays and performance, crew morale, communication quality, or task autonomy in the current study. There was however, a trend towards a main effect of task criticality on task autonomy, suggesting ISS crewmembers felt they had more autonomy when they performed low compared to high critical tasks. Apart from the small sample size, the lack of a statistically significant interaction between communication delays and task criticality may be attributed to a number of factors, including the short communication delay interval, the type and number of tasks studied, and/or the format and number of survey items administered.

Since qualitative data suggested high task-related communication demands contributed to adverse impacts of communication delays, exploratory analyses were conducted to explore whether these relationships were also observed in the quantitative data. Results from this study suggest task-related communication demands may moderate the relationships between communication delays and individual and team outcomes. Specifically, the inverse association between communication delays and crew and team performance, and communication quality was stronger when tasks required high compared to low task-related communication demands.

Furthermore, task autonomy decreased in communication delay compared to control conditions when tasks involved a high, but not low level of task-related communication demands. Collectively, the qualitative and quantitative data suggest communication delays were more likely to negatively impact individual and team outcomes when tasks involve high levels of task-related communication; accordingly, countermeasures that reduce back-and-forth communications, either by increasing crew autonomy or improving communication strategies, may mitigate or prevent adverse impacts.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 11/13/2019) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Palinkas LA, Kintz N. "The impact of experimental delays in communication to and from the International Space Station on subjective assessments of performance and well-being." Presented at the 87th Aerospace Medical Association Annual Meeting, Atlantic City, NJ, April 24-28, 2016.

Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 2016 Mar;87(3):190. , Mar-2016

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Kintz N, Palinkas LA. "Impact of communications delays on performance and well-being aboard the International Space Station: Lessons learned for long-duration spaceflight." Presented at the 87th Aerospace Medical Association Annual Meeting, Atlantic City, NJ, April 24-28, 2016.

Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. 2016 Mar;87(3):322. , Mar-2016

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Kintz N, Palinkas LA. "Assessing the impact of communication delays on performance and well-being aboard the International Space Station." Presented at the 2016 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, February 8-11, 2016.

2016 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, February 8-11, 2016. , Feb-2016

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Palinkas LA, Vessey WB, Chou CP, Leviton LB. "Communication delay and its impacts on performance, well-being and autonomy on the ISS." Presented at the 2015 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 13-15, 2015.

2015 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 13-15, 2015. , Jan-2015

Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Kintz NM, Chou CP, Vessey WB, Leveton LB, Palinkas LA. "Impact of simulated ISS communication delays on individual and team behavior and performance: a mixed-methods approach." Acta Astronautica. 2016 Dec;129:193-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2016.09.018 , Dec-2016
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Kintz N, Palinkas LA. "Communication delays impact behavior and performance aboard the International Space Station." Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016 Nov;87(11):940-6. https://doi.org/10.3357/AMHP.4626.2016 ; PubMed PMID: 27779953 , Nov-2016
NASA Technical Documents Palinkas LA, Kintz NM, Vessey WB, Chou C-P, Leveton LB. "Assessing the impact of communication delay on behavioral health and performance: An examination of autonomous operations utilizing the International Space Station." Houston, TX: NASA Johnson Space Center, 2017 Jan. 60 p. NASA/TM-2017-219285. , Jan-2017
Project Title:  Assessing the Impact of Communication Delay on Behavioral Health and Performance: An Examination of Autonomous Operations Utilizing the International Space Station Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2015 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/05/2012  
End Date: 09/30/2016  
Task Last Updated: 06/30/2015 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Palinkas, Lawrence  Ph.D. / University of Southern California 
Address:  School of Social Work 
MRF 339 
Los Angeles , CA 90089-0411 
Email: palinkas@usc.edu 
Phone: 858 922-7265  
Congressional District: 33 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: University of Southern California 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Chou, Chih-ping  University of Southern California 
Vessey, William  Ph.D. Wyle/NASA Johnson Space Center 
Leveton, Lauren  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR21A 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR21A 
Project Type: FLIGHT 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Bmed:Risk of Adverse Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
(3) Train:Risk of Performance Errors Due to Training Deficiencies
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed08:We need to understand how personal relations/interactions (family, friends and colleagues) affect astronauts’ behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (element change per IRP Rev H)
(2) SHFE-TRAIN-02:We need to identify effective methods and tools that can be used to train for long-duration, long-distance space missions. (IRP Rev F. Previously: How do we develop training methods and tools for space medical application if time is minimal?)
(3) Team Gap 01:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(4) Team Gap 03:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function for all phases of autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(5) Team Gap 05:We need to identify validated ground-based training methods that can be both preparatory and continuing to maintain team function in autonomous, long duration, and/or distance exploration mission (IRP Rev E)
(6) Team Gap 06:We need to identify methods to support and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy during long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: ISS

NOTE: End date changed to 9/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 7/18/16)

NOTE: End date is now 6/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/8/15)

NOTE: Period of performance corrected to 9/5/2012-9/4/2015 per NSSC information (Ed., 4/4/2013)

Task Description: Space crews of exploration missions in the future will need to be more autonomous from mission control and act and operate independently, in part, due to the expectation that communication quality between the ground and exploration crews will be more limited by communication delays and other quality factors than on any mission to date. Communication delays and the impact these delays have on the quality of communications to the crew will create performance decrements if crews are not given adequate training and tools to support more autonomous operations. The proposed research study will examine the impact of implementing an experimental communication delay on the International Space Station (ISS) on individual and team factors and outcomes, including performance and related perceptions of autonomy. To date, very few studies have observed teams in remote environments that perform without communication with management teams (e.g., mission control), and no such studies have been conducted during long-duration expeditions or missions. This study meets the operationally constrained criterion of a Human Research Program (HRP) directed research project (DRP) and is a time-constrained requirement as we will be: 1) utilizing ISS Increment 39/40 to implement this study beginning in Spring of 2014, 2) incorporating the results of this study to identify future near-term research tasks that relate to autonomy and what countermeasures will be needed to adequately prepare for autonomous long duration missions, and 3) guiding future NASA Research Announcement (NRA) calls based on the conclusions that are drawn from this study that will address and close research gaps (including Team Gaps 1, 6, and 7 as well as inform BMed Gaps 1 and 2). Specifically, this study will examine how interdependent teams (such as those with members in the field and at home base) interact and perform tasks with and without delays in communications between the team elements. The tasks to be performed by the teams vary along two dimensions: 1) those that are either critical or not critical (“criticality”) and 2) those that are either novel or familiar (“novelty”). Tasks will include variations in both dimensions as it is assumed that highly novel and highly critical tasks are similar to those that a team may encounter during a long duration mission in which they have no prior training but must address.

The proposed study will involve the 3 USOS astronaut participants aboard the ISS during Increment 39/40, as well as the CAPCOMs and Flight Directors on duty during the 4 weeks of the increment during which data collection will take place. While this sample should be adequate to demonstrate feasibility of data collection and enable preliminary analyses of study hypotheses, 3-4 additional increments may be required to achieve sufficient power to test all study hypotheses. During the planned 180 days of Increment 39/40, participants will perform 16 tasks, 8 under conditions of no delay in communications, and 8 under conditions of a 10 minute one-way delay. Tasks will be designated by subject matter experts (SMEs) in collaboration with the Mission Operations directorate (MOD) for monitoring based on their level of novelty (high/low) and criticality (high/low).

Rationale for HRP Directed Research: This research is directed because NASA must define complete scientific activities in a short time and there is insufficient time to issue a solicitation.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits:

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2015 
Task Progress: • Delays in communications are technically feasible. Audiovisual records of performance under control and delayed conditions are available to provide objective measures of communication and performance. Obtaining post-task information from participants on mood and performance is also feasible.

• However, finding sufficient number of tasks that meet study criteria is a significant challenge to conducting such a study. Data collection will in all likelihood require more increments to achieve adequate sample size. Greater flexibility in study criteria and more time is required to educate potential study participants are needed.

• Study participants were in agreement as to importance of study and there was little difficulty with recruitment of participants. However, MCC concern about impact of study on certain operations, the Astronaut Office concern about astronaut willingness to provide certain types of information in standardized formats, and astronaut concerns about relevance of certain items on questionnaires represent important challenges to conducting a study of this nature. As a result, quantitative data on perceived stress and social support are lacking.

• Communications delay was associated with understanding what was communicated.

• Being understood by others was significantly associated with autonomy, individual and team performance and team well-being.

• Total communications quality was associated with autonomy, team performance and well-being.

• Crew performance and well-being were associated with communications delay in low critical tasks.

• Autonomy was associated with crew and team performance and crew well-being, but did not mediate the relationship between communications delay and these outcomes.

• Post-flight interviews with astronauts revealed evidence of stress and frustration in completing tasks under conditions of communications delay due to difficulties in getting answers in a timely fashion with certain tasks (Cargo Ops, housekeeping) because it resulted in an additional delay in getting the information needed to complete the task, when one party does not understand and they have to ask questions. Participants also acknowledged impacts on task performance including delays in task completion and anticipated difficulties with completing certain tasks under conditions of communications delay. Behavioral changes that occurred included asking longer and more detailed questions, discussions with other crewmembers before making a call to Mission Control, more interaction between crewmembers because ground personnel could not be used as a crewmate, less interaction of ground would affect mood and feelings of camaraderie, and CAPCOM would slow down pace of communication and make more repeated calls. Other distractions included: location – communication more difficult in some parts of ISS than others, a condition referred to as ‘Space brain” – affected comprehension and memory, and other crewmembers yelling down questions during calls.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 11/13/2019) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2015
Project Title:  Assessing the Impact of Communication Delay on Behavioral Health and Performance: An Examination of Autonomous Operations Utilizing the International Space Station Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2014 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/05/2012  
End Date: 06/30/2016  
Task Last Updated: 07/01/2014 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Palinkas, Lawrence  Ph.D. / University of Southern California 
Address:  School of Social Work 
MRF 339 
Los Angeles , CA 90089-0411 
Email: palinkas@usc.edu 
Phone: 858 922-7265  
Congressional District: 33 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: University of Southern California 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Chou, Chih-ping  University of Southern California 
Vessey, William  Ph.D. NASA 
Leveton, Lauren  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR21A 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR21A 
Project Type: FLIGHT 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Bmed:Risk of Adverse Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
(3) Train:Risk of Performance Errors Due to Training Deficiencies
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed08:We need to understand how personal relations/interactions (family, friends and colleagues) affect astronauts’ behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (element change per IRP Rev H)
(2) SHFE-TRAIN-02:We need to identify effective methods and tools that can be used to train for long-duration, long-distance space missions. (IRP Rev F. Previously: How do we develop training methods and tools for space medical application if time is minimal?)
(3) Team Gap 01:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(4) Team Gap 03:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function for all phases of autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(5) Team Gap 05:We need to identify validated ground-based training methods that can be both preparatory and continuing to maintain team function in autonomous, long duration, and/or distance exploration mission (IRP Rev E)
(6) Team Gap 06:We need to identify methods to support and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy during long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: ISS

NOTE: End date is now 6/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/8/15)

NOTE: Period of performance corrected to 9/5/2012-9/4/2015 per NSSC information (Ed., 4/4/2013)

Task Description: Space crews of exploration missions in the future will need to be more autonomous from mission control and act and operate independently, in part, due to the expectation that communication quality between the ground and exploration crews will be more limited by communication delays and other quality factors than on any mission to date. Communication delays and the impact these delays have on the quality of communications to the crew will create performance decrements if crews are not given adequate training and tools to support more autonomous operations. The proposed research study will examine the impact of implementing an experimental communication delay on the International Space Station (ISS) on individual and team factors and outcomes, including performance and related perceptions of autonomy. To date, very few studies have observed teams in remote environments that perform without communication with management teams (e.g., mission control), and no such studies have been conducted during long-duration expeditions or missions. This study meets the operationally constrained criterion of a Human Research Program (HRP) directed research project (DRP) and is a time-constrained requirement as we will be: 1) utilizing ISS Increment 39/40 to implement this study beginning in Spring of 2014, 2) incorporating the results of this study to identify future near-term research tasks that relate to autonomy and what countermeasures will be needed to adequately prepare for autonomous long duration missions, and 3) guiding future NRA calls based on the conclusions that are drawn from this study that will address and close research gaps (including Team Gaps 1, 6, and 7 as well as inform BMed Gaps 1 and 2). Specifically, this study will examine how interdependent teams (such as those with members in the field and at home base) interact and perform tasks with and without delays in communications between the team elements. The tasks to be performed by the teams vary along two dimensions: 1) those that are either critical or not critical (“criticality”) and 2) those that are either novel or familiar (“novelty”). Tasks will include variations in both dimensions as it is assumed that highly novel and highly critical tasks are similar to those that a team may encounter during a long duration mission in which they have no prior training but must address.

The proposed study will involve the 3 USOS astronaut participants aboard the ISS during Increment 39/40, as well as the CAPCOMs and Flight Directors on duty during the 4 weeks of the increment during which data collection will take place. While this sample should be adequate to demonstrate feasibility of data collection and enable preliminary analyses of study hypotheses, 3-4 additional increments may be required to achieve sufficient power to test all study hypotheses. During the planned 180 days of Increment 39/40, participants will perform 16 tasks, 8 under conditions of no delay in communications, and 8 under conditions of a 10 minute one-way delay. Tasks will be designated by subject matter experts (SMEs) in collaboration with the Mission Operations directorate (MOD) for monitoring based on their level of novelty (high/low) and criticality (high/low).

Rationale for HRP Directed Research: This research is directed because NASA must define complete scientific activities in a short time and there is insufficient time to issue a solicitation.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2014 
Task Progress: Between January 27 and March 14, pre-flight interviews were conducted with three participating astronauts. The interviews were conducted by telephone with Dr. Palinkas, with Drs. Vessey and/or Leveton present in Houston. Interviews lasted between 35 and 60 minutes. Participants were asked about prior experiences in working under conditions of prolonged isolation and confinement, working with a team, and communicating with others physically separated from you.

In collaboration with MCC, study investigators identified 16 tasks to be performed, 8 during a 1-2 week period early in the mission and 8 to be performed during a 1-2 week period late in the mission. The tasks were selected on the basis of criticality and novelty (low criticality-low novelty, high criticality-low novelty, low criticality-high novelty, and high criticality-high novelty). Candidate tasks were identified by MCC and then reviewed by study investigators.

Data collection for the early phase of the increment was initiated during the week of June 16. Procedures to implement the 50-second one-way delay were pilot tested. Completion of tasks under conditions of delay and no delay to date have occurred without incident, and astronaut and MCC participants have been completing post-task questionnaires as requested.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 11/13/2019) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2014
Project Title:  Assessing the Impact of Communication Delay on Behavioral Health and Performance: An Examination of Autonomous Operations Utilizing the International Space Station Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2013 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/05/2012  
End Date: 09/04/2015  
Task Last Updated: 08/28/2013 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Palinkas, Lawrence  Ph.D. / University of Southern California 
Address:  School of Social Work 
MRF 339 
Los Angeles , CA 90089-0411 
Email: palinkas@usc.edu 
Phone: 858 922-7265  
Congressional District: 33 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: University of Southern California 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Chou, Chih-ping  University of Southern California 
Vessey, William Brandon NASA 
Leveton, Lauren B NASA Johnson Space Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR21A 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR21A 
Project Type: FLIGHT 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Bmed:Risk of Adverse Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
(3) Train:Risk of Performance Errors Due to Training Deficiencies
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed08:We need to understand how personal relations/interactions (family, friends and colleagues) affect astronauts’ behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (element change per IRP Rev H)
(2) SHFE-TRAIN-02:We need to identify effective methods and tools that can be used to train for long-duration, long-distance space missions. (IRP Rev F. Previously: How do we develop training methods and tools for space medical application if time is minimal?)
(3) Team Gap 01:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(4) Team Gap 03:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function for all phases of autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(5) Team Gap 05:We need to identify validated ground-based training methods that can be both preparatory and continuing to maintain team function in autonomous, long duration, and/or distance exploration mission (IRP Rev E)
(6) Team Gap 06:We need to identify methods to support and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy during long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: ISS

NOTE: Period of performance corrected to 9/5/2012-9/4/2015 per NSSC information (Ed., 4/4/2013)

Task Description: Space crews of exploration missions in the future will need to be more autonomous from mission control and act and operate independently, in part, due to the expectation that communication quality between the ground and exploration crews will be more limited by communication delays and other quality factors than on any mission to date. Communication delays and the impact these delays have on the quality of communications to the crew will create performance decrements if crews are not given adequate training and tools to support more autonomous operations. The proposed research study will examine the impact of implementing an experimental communication delay on the International Space Station (ISS) on individual and team factors and outcomes, including performance and related perceptions of autonomy. To date, very few studies have observed teams in remote environments that perform without communication with management teams (e.g., mission control), and no such studies have been conducted during long-duration expeditions or missions. This study meets the operationally constrained criterion of a Human Research Program (HRP) directed research project (DRP) and is a time-constrained requirement as we will be: 1) utilizing ISS Increment 39/40 to implement this study beginning in Spring of 2014, 2) incorporating the results of this study to identify future near-term research tasks that relate to autonomy and what countermeasures will be needed to adequately prepare for autonomous long duration missions, and 3) guiding future NRA calls based on the conclusions that are drawn from this study that will address and close research gaps (including Team Gaps 1, 6, and 7 as well as inform BMed Gaps 1 and 2). Specifically, this study will examine how interdependent teams (such as those with members in the field and at home base) interact and perform tasks with and without delays in communications between the team elements. The tasks to be performed by the teams vary along two dimensions: 1) those that are either critical or not critical (“criticality”) and 2) those that are either novel or familiar (“novelty”). Tasks will include variations in both dimensions as it is assumed that highly novel and highly critical tasks are similar to those that a team may encounter during a long duration mission in which they have no prior training but must address.

The proposed study will involve the 3 USOS astronaut participants aboard the ISS during Increment 39/40, as well as the CAPCOMs and Flight Directors on duty during the 4 weeks of the increment during which data collection will take place. While this sample should be adequate to demonstrate feasibility of data collection and enable preliminary analyses of study hypotheses, 3-4 additional increments may be required to achieve sufficient power to test all study hypotheses. During the planned 180 days of Increment 39/40, participants will perform 16 tasks, 8 under conditions of no delay in communications, and 8 under conditions of a 10 minute one-way delay. Tasks will be designated by subject matter experts (SMEs) in collaboration with the Mission Operations directorate (MOD) for monitoring based on their level of novelty (high/low) and criticality (high/low).

Rationale for HRP Directed Research: This research is directed because NASA must define complete scientific activities in a short time and there is insufficient time to issue a solicitation.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2013 
Task Progress: During the past year, draft data collection instruments were reviewed by the Astronaut Office and revised in accordance with their recommendations. The revised instruments include open-ended and validated survey items assessing perceived autonomy, stress and social support, communications quality, and individual and group performance and well-being. Efforts were made to recruit astronauts scheduled to participate in subsequent ISS increments. A total of 6 astronauts and 3 backups agreed to participate.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 11/13/2019) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Palinkas LA, Chou CP, Vessey WB, Leveton LB. "Assessing the impact of communication delay on behavioral health and performance aboard the International Space Station." 2013 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, February 12-14, 2013.

2013 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, February 12-14, 2013. , Feb-2013

Project Title:  Assessing the Impact of Communication Delay on Behavioral Health and Performance: An Examination of Autonomous Operations Utilizing the International Space Station Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2012 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/05/2012  
End Date: 09/04/2015  
Task Last Updated: 05/29/2012 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Palinkas, Lawrence  Ph.D. / University of Southern California 
Address:  School of Social Work 
MRF 339 
Los Angeles , CA 90089-0411 
Email: palinkas@usc.edu 
Phone: 858 922-7265  
Congressional District: 33 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: University of Southern California 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Chou, Chih-ping  University of Southern California 
Schmidt, Lacey  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Slack, Kelley  NASA Johnson Space Center/Wyle 
Baskin, Pamela  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR21A 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR21A 
Project Type: FLIGHT 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:  
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:  
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:  
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Bmed:Risk of Adverse Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
(3) Train:Risk of Performance Errors Due to Training Deficiencies
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed08:We need to understand how personal relations/interactions (family, friends and colleagues) affect astronauts’ behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (element change per IRP Rev H)
(2) SHFE-TRAIN-02:We need to identify effective methods and tools that can be used to train for long-duration, long-distance space missions. (IRP Rev F. Previously: How do we develop training methods and tools for space medical application if time is minimal?)
(3) Team Gap 01:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and life cycle of the team for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(4) Team Gap 03:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function for all phases of autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
(5) Team Gap 05:We need to identify validated ground-based training methods that can be both preparatory and continuing to maintain team function in autonomous, long duration, and/or distance exploration mission (IRP Rev E)
(6) Team Gap 06:We need to identify methods to support and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy during long duration and/or distance exploration missions (IRP Rev E)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: ISS

NOTE: Period of performance corrected to 9/5/2012-9/4/2015 per NSSC information (Ed., 4/4/2013)

Task Description: Space crews of exploration missions in the future will need to be more autonomous from mission control and act and operate independently, in part, due to the expectation that communication quality between the ground and exploration crews will be more limited by communication delays and other quality factors than on any mission to date. Communication delays and the impact these delays have on the quality of communications to the crew will create performance decrements if crews are not given adequate training and tools to support more autonomous operations. The proposed research study will examine the impact of implementing an experimental communication delay on the International Space Station (ISS) on individual and team factors and outcomes, including performance and related perceptions of autonomy. To date, very few studies have observed teams in remote environments that perform without communication with management teams (e.g., mission control), and no such studies have been conducted during long-duration expeditions or missions. This study meets the operationally constrained criterion of a Human Research Program (HRP) directed research project (DRP) and is a time-constrained requirement as we will be: 1) utilizing ISS Increment 35/36 to implement this study beginning in Spring of 2013, 2) incorporating the results of this study to identify future near-term research tasks that relate to autonomy and what countermeasures will be needed to adequately prepare for autonomous long duration missions, and 3) guiding future NRA calls based on the conclusions that are drawn from this study that will address and close research gaps (including Team Gaps 1, 6, and 7 as well as inform BMed Gaps 1 and 2). Specifically, this study will examine how interdependent teams (such as those with members in the field and at home base) interact and perform tasks with and without delays in communications between the team elements. The tasks to be performed by the teams vary along two dimensions: 1) those that are either critical or not critical (“criticality”) and 2) those that are either novel or familiar (“novelty”). Tasks will include variations in both dimensions as it is assumed that highly novel and highly critical tasks are similar to those that a team may encounter during a long duration mission in which they have no prior training but must address.

The proposed study will involve the 3 USOS astronaut participants aboard the ISS during Increment 35/36, as well as the CAPCOMs and Flight Directors on duty during the 4 weeks of the increment during which data collection will take place. While this sample should be adequate to demonstrate feasibility of data collection and enable preliminary analyses of study hypotheses, 3-4 additional increments may be required to achieve sufficient power to test all study hypotheses. During the planned 180 days of Increment 35/36, participants will perform 16 tasks, 8 under conditions of no delay in communications, and 8 under conditions of a 10 minute one-way delay. Tasks will be designated by subject matter experts (SMEs) in collaboration with the Mission Operations directorate (MOD) for monitoring based on their level of novelty (high/low) and criticality (high/low).

Rationale for HRP Directed Research: This research is directed because NASA must define complete scientific activities in a short time and there is insufficient time to issue a solicitation.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2012 
Task Progress: New project for FY2012.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 11/13/2019) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2012