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Project Title:  Protocols for Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations: Communication Analysis Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2016 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/06/2012  
End Date: 08/31/2016  
Task Last Updated: 11/29/2016 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Fischer, Ute  Ph.D. / Georgia Institute of Technology 
Address:  School of Literature, Communication and Culture 
686 Cherry Street 
Atlanta , GA 30332-0165 
Email: ute.fischer@gatech.edu 
Phone: 404-894-7627  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Georgia Institute of Technology 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Mosier, Kathleen  Ph.D. California State University, San Fransisco 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR19G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR19G 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: Yes 
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: 13 
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) HSIA:Risk of Adverse Outcome Due to Inadequate Human Systems Integration Architecture (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) HSIA-601:We need to determine individual and team-based Human System Integration (HSI) training procedures, regimens, and standards that are required pre- and in-mission, and post-landing to help reduce demands on crew (e.g., neurocognitive, time); support meaningful work during long-duration missions; and mitigate potential decrements in operationally-relevant performance (e.g., training retention, problem-solving, procedure execution) during increasingly earth-independent, future exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team-101:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and evolution of the team throughout its life cycle for shifting autonomy and interface with automation in increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(3) Team-105:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy for all phases of increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date is now 8/31/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/23/16)

NOTE: End date is now 6/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 3/9/16)

NOTE: End date is now 3/5/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/8/15)

Task Description: 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 research project 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. Specific project goals were: (1) Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks vs. 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 (space analog and laboratory) were conducted.

The first set of studies had the goal 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 s [Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) and NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations NEEMO)]. A complimentary laboratory study was conducted to examine further whether the availability of protocols enhanced remote team members’ communication and task performance during periods of communication delay.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Our research resulted in the design of communication protocols and a training module that support collaborative problem solving and decision making by teams that are distributed across Earth and space and communicate asynchronously. Communication protocols could also be used to support collaborative work within on-ground distributed synchronous teams, for instance, during military operations or in telemedicine. Moreover, the communication protocols also point to technological solutions. One example is the text tool that was adopted in one space simulation and assisted the crew with the temporal aspects of communication. Further improvements might be a less chat- and more email-like text tool that includes a subject header and links between related messages to make it easier for conversational partners to follow a conversational thread. A text tool could also provide a template that gives structure to a message and highlights its components. Likewise, voice communication could be facilitated if recordings of messages were available to both sender and receiver. Moreover, the recording could indicate when a message was transmitted, and it is conceivable that the recording tool would include prompts for specific message components.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2016 
Task Progress: Our first study consisted of an analysis of the communications between astronauts and Mission Control personnel recorded as part of the Autonomous Mission Operation (AMO) study conducted by Frank, Spirkovska, McCann, et al. (2013). In a second, laboratory, study we examined the impact of communication delay in relation to different communication media. Findings from these studies informed the design of medium-specific communication protocols as they highlighted which aspects of the communication process need support to ensure successful communication between remote partners under asynchronous conditions. The effectiveness and feasibility of communication protocols for space operations was subsequently assessed in two studies, resulting in refinements of the protocols and the design of a communication training module.

Analysis of the AMO data provided first insights into the effects of transmission delays on team communication. Specifically, we observed that transmission delays disrupted the timing and structure of turns (i.e., communications by different team members). Communications by different speakers co-occurred (i.e., step-ons in which team members talked over each other) or were out of sequence (i.e., related turns by partners did not follow each other as one partner inserted a turn before the addressee could respond to the initial contribution). Both types of disruptions likely increased team members’ cognitive workload and jeopardized common ground (i.e., mutual task and team awareness). Step-ons compromised mutual understanding insofar as parts of a message were inaudible and required additional turns to repair which, given the transmission delay, were likely associated with considerable costs both in terms of time and workload (as partners had to wait for critical information and keep track of concurrent tasks).

Contributions that were out of sequence could undermine mutual understanding in at least two important respects. When related contributions by members of the flight control team and the space crew did not immediately follow each other, partners had to keep track which conversation was still open requiring a response. This increased cognitive demand on team members may account for the finding that they frequently failed to respond to a partner’s communication. Contributions that were out of sequence could also come too late; that is, a communication was overtaken by events and thus reached the addressee after the fact.

In a companion laboratory study we explored the impact of transmission delay on team communication and task performance in relation to varying task demands (procedural vs. ill-defined), and different communication media (voice vs. text). Spatially distributed teams of three collaborated in a computer-based task environment and communicated either by voice-over-internet or via a texting tool. The micro-world for the study was AutoCAMS 2.0 (Manzey et al., 2008) which simulates the life support system of a spacecraft and requires team members to monitor and control different subsystems, and to diagnose and repair failures. Each team was required to perform procedural and problem solving tasks during one synchronous and one asynchronous flight segment (5-min one-way delay in communications transmission). Each flight segment lasted for 90 minutes. In order to guarantee the requirement of communication and collaboration on the experimental tasks, task-related expertise concerning diagnostic and repair procedures was differentially distributed among team members. The Flight System Engineer (FSE) received extensive training on AutoCAMS systems, diagnoses, and repairs, and had access to a comprehensive reference manual. The two Pioneer crewmembers were given basic training on AutoCAMS and were instructed to contact the FSE for guidance on diagnosis and repair whenever a failure occurred on their system.

Analyses of team performance revealed that transmission delay impacted time required to initiate a successful repair and more importantly, that its effect varied by communication medium. When communication was delayed, teams used a comparable amount of time to repair system failures, irrespective of the communication medium used. However, when communication was synchronous, voice teams outperformed text groups. Likewise, teams’ accuracy in performing system repairs was influenced by communication medium. Overall, teams communicating by text undertook more incorrect repairs than teams communicating by voice.

Analysis of FSE/Pioneer communications revealed that communication delay influenced both the rate of turns by team members and the length of their contributions. Team members made fewer but longer contributions when they communicated under time delay than when no time delay was present. Moreover, these effects were more pronounced for teams communicating by voice than those communicating via text. This finding suggests that team members using text may have been more concise than team members in the voice condition. However, subsequent content analyses of Pioneer Crew/FSE interactions during transmission delay revealed that text communication was also associated with an increased potential for misunderstanding. Text teams were more likely than voice teams to split up related information and present it in separate turns. Related communications (adjacency pairs such as question and answer) by distributed team members were also further apart (i.e., more unrelated messages intervened) in text- than in voice-based communications. Text communication also included more threats to common ground, in particular missing responses and anaphora (i.e., terms whose meaning could not be established within a turn but depended on information provided in preceding turns).

These differences are consistent with medium-specific affordances and constraints. Text provides team members with a written record of their on-going conversation, and thus may enable them to keep track of related contributions and the identity of referents across turns. However, as the presence of communication problems in the text group indicates, team members may have overestimated the benefits of text-based communication. Voice communication is cognitively more taxing than text-based communication insofar as participants need to remember their ongoing discourse to interpret new information. Voice teams apparently adapted to this constraint by packing more information into one turn than text teams, behavior that kept related communications more closely aligned and may have aided comprehension.

Both text and voice teams showed instances of miscommunication in which team members misapplied assumptions and conventions of synchronous discourse to asynchronous conditions. Team members displayed proximity bias; that is, they mistook a remote partner’s communication that immediately followed their own transmission as a response to it, or they showed insensitivity to the delay by repeating a message before they could have received a response from their partner. These instances required additional communication in which team members clarified their situation understanding, or they spiraled into misunderstanding from which team members never recovered and thus were unable to repair a system failure.

Both the AMO and the lab study also underscored the importance of several strategies that could support team communication under time-delayed conditions. Turn taking seemed to be facilitated when speakers announced specific times at which their addressees could expect a transmission. Mutual understanding may also be enhanced when speakers specify the topic of a message, present complex messages in meaningful chunks and repeat crucial information. Listeners, in turn, need to provide evidence of their understanding so that problems of hearing and comprehension are detected and repaired as quickly as possible.

Medium-specific communication protocols created as part of this project incorporated these strategies, as well as recommendations by Love and Reagan (2013). A protocol’s structural characteristics were based on schema-based approaches to instruction design (Morrow & Rogers, 2008; Morrow et al., 1996; 1998; 2005). A communication protocol is a structured communication template consisting of four segments (Call Sign, Topic, Message, Closing) with specifications regarding their content and organization, and several communication conventions that address the major challenges of asynchronous communication—Time, Conversational Thread, and Transmission Efficiency. Media-specific instructions concern aspects of the call sign and conventions that are consistent with the affordances and constraints associated with voice or text communication. Medium-independent instructions concern the topic section of a message, the message body and the final—closing—section as well as several conventions designed to support conversational coherence, message comprehension and shared task understanding, as well as communication efficiency. The feasibility of the communication protocols to space missions was assessed in two analog environments (NASA’s Extreme Environment Operations facility, NEEMO, and the Human Exploration Research Analog, HERA). A complimentary laboratory study was conducted to examine further whether the availability of protocols enhanced remote team members’ communication and task performance during periods of communication delay.

The same task environment (AutoCAMS) as in the previous laboratory study on medium effects was used to assess whether the availability of protocols enhanced team communication and task performance of remote teams during communication delay. AutoCAMS (Manzey et al., 2008) simulates the life support system of a spacecraft, and in our task design, requires teams of three, spatially-distributed participants to diagnose and repair system failures. Teams were randomly assigned to either the Protocol (i.e., experimental) or No-Protocol (i.e., control) condition. Participants in the experimental group received the communication protocols and 30 minutes of communication instruction as part of their position-specific (Flight Systems Engineer, FSE, or Pioneer crewmember) task training. Participants in the control group received only task specific training. After training, participants completed two 90-min sessions, one in which the communication between the Pioneer crew and the FSE was voice-based, and one that provided only text communication. Communication between remote team members in both sessions was delayed by 5 minutes one-way.

Analysis of task performance showed that the availability of communication protocols did not have a significant effect on the Pioneer crews’ task performance in terms of time to resolve failures, incorrect repair attempts, or number of correct repairs. However, the availability of protocols was found to mitigate some communication issues associated with transmission delay. Specifically, protocols seemed to have helped team members with the structure and content of their contributions. On the other hand, training on the protocols apparently did not make it easier for team members to keep track of the time lag between their own and their remote partners’ contributions; rather, aided team members were just as likely as unaided participants to misalign their partners’ contribution or to repeat messages without allowing sufficient time for their partner to respond. These failures suggest that the expectation of immediacy is an ingrained habit of synchronous communication and to overcome it, may require more training than study participants received. We therefore increased the allotted time for the communication training in subsequent analog studies from 30 to 60 minutes to give participants more experience with the challenges of transmission delay as well as practice using the protocols. Another factor that may explain why trained participants persisted in relying on habits of synchronous communication, is the complexity of AutoCAMS, the micro-world used in our study. To cope with the workload associated with the task, some Protocol teams may have fallen back onto well-rehearsed and thus easy communication habits of synchronous discourse which, in turn, resulted in miscommunication and likely increased their workload even more. This explanation is also consistent with the finding that the availability of communication protocols did not lead to improved task performance. A final explanatory comment is that our study participants did not always conform to their assigned condition, and thus blurred the lines between control and experimental groups.

The communication protocols were also included in several space-analog simulations at NASA’s Extreme Environment Operations (NEEMO) facility and the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA). Participants in NEEMO-18 and NEEMO-19 and two HERA crews (Campaign-1 missions 3 and 4) received 30 minutes of communication training prior to their missions. Training for participants in the four missions of HERA Campaign-2 was increased to 60 minutes in response to feedback by crewmembers in the earlier missions and as a consequence of our lab study. Communication training identified the challenges of asynchronous communication and explained the elements of the communication protocols and conventions. Crewmembers of missions 1 and 2 of HERA Campaign 1 served as control and thus did not participate in any communication training.

In all NEEMO and HERA missions, communication delay occurred on consecutive mission days. Communication between crew and Mission Control was delayed by 5 minutes or 10 minutes one-way. In some simulations (NEEMO-18; HERA Campaign-1) communication medium was limited to voice or text on a given day with transmission delay, or the crewmembers could choose their communication medium (NEEMO-19, HERA Campaign-2). Copies of the communication protocols were given to trained participants at the start of a mission to serve as a reference aid on days with a communication delay.

Surveys were administered throughout a mission asking participants to rate the effectiveness of the protocols and their interactions with mission control, and in a final survey to provide feedback on individual elements of the communication protocols. Trained crewmembers generally rated protocol elements and conventions as fairly critical to ensuring effective communication during asynchronous conditions. Very high ratings across crews for several items—providing a topic, using a log to track related messages, and announcing complex or critical messages—reflect the value of protocols for keeping track of message threads. Compliance with the protocols was also high as crewmembers generally followed the protocols in their communications on mission days with a transmission delay.

Concurrent with these research efforts we conducted interviews with domain experts (Flight Surgeons, CapCom, and PayCom). The goal of these interviews was to characterize challenges of space-ground communication in current operations, to discuss the impact of communication delay and to learn about communication strategies experts have adopted. Experts mentioned several strategies to ensure effective communication and emphasized the importance of joint training of ground support and crewmembers to establish mutual trust. These strategies are consistent with the communication protocols we developed as well as our training approach that involved a joint session with HERA crewmembers and HabComs.

Overall these research findings suggest that asynchronous communication may be facilitated by protocols that aid conversational partners in keeping track of conversational threads and the temporal sequence of messages. Our findings let to the development of a communication training module that can be used to prepare crewmembers and members of Mission Control for the challenges of communication delay. Moreover, the communication protocols not only target how to speak or write during asynchronous conditions but also point to specific technological solutions.

References:

Frank, J., Spirkovska, L., McCann, R., et al. (2013). Autonomous mission operations. IEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings, March 2-9. Big Sky, Montana.

Manzey, D., Bleil, M., Bahner-Heyne, J. E., Klostermann, A., Onnasch, L., Reichenbach, J., & Röttger, S. (2008). AutoCAMS 2.0 Manual. Berlin: Technical University of Berlin.

Love, S. G. & Reagan, M. L. (2013). Delayed voice communication. Acta Astronautica, 91, 89-95.

Morrow, D. G. & Rogers, W. A. (2008). Environmental support: An integrative framework. Human Factors, 50(4),589-613.

Morrow, D. G., Leirer, Von O., Andrassy, J. M., Decker Tanke, E., & Stine-Morrow, E. (1996). Medication instruction design: Younger and older adult schemas for taking medication. Human Factors, 38(4),556-573.

Morrow, D. G., Leirer, Von O., Andrassy, J. M., Hier, C. M., & Menard, W. E., (1998). The influence of list format and category headers on age differences in understanding medication instructions. Experimental Aging Research, 24, 231-256.

Morrow, D. G., Weiner, M., Young, J., Steinley, D., Deer, M., & Murray, M. D. ( 2005). Improving medication knowledge among older adults with heart failure: A patient-centered approach to instruction design. The Gerontologist, 45(4), 545-552.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/06/2021) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Fischer U, Mosier K. "Communication protocols to support collaboration in distributed teams under asynchronous conditions." Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2015 Sep;59(1):1-5. (59th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, Oct. 26-30, 2015.) http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1541931215591001 , Sep-2015
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Gonzalez K, Mosier K, Lam J, Fischer, U. "Characteristics impacting teamwork and performance for space operations." Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2015 Sep;59(1):936-40. (59th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, Oct. 26-30, 2015.) http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1541931215591272 , Sep-2015
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Mosier KL, Fischer UM. "Meeting the challenge of transmission delay: Communication protocols for space operations." Human Factors. 2021 Oct 19;187208211047085. Online first. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187208211047085 ; PMID: 34663105 , Oct-2021
Books/Book Chapters Fischer U, Mosier K. "Mitigating the impact of communication delay." in "Psychology and Human Performance in Space Programs: Extreme Application." Ed. L.B. Landon, K.J. Slack, E. Salas. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2020. p. 101-114. Book doi: https://doi.org/10.1201/9780429440854 , Oct-2020
Project Title:  Protocols for Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations: Communication Analysis Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2015 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/06/2012  
End Date: 08/31/2016  
Task Last Updated: 07/05/2015 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Fischer, Ute  Ph.D. / Georgia Institute of Technology 
Address:  School of Literature, Communication and Culture 
686 Cherry Street 
Atlanta , GA 30332-0165 
Email: ute.fischer@gatech.edu 
Phone: 404-894-7627  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Georgia Institute of Technology 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Mosier, Kathleen  California State University, San Fransisco 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR19G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR19G 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: Yes 
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) HSIA:Risk of Adverse Outcome Due to Inadequate Human Systems Integration Architecture (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) HSIA-601:We need to determine individual and team-based Human System Integration (HSI) training procedures, regimens, and standards that are required pre- and in-mission, and post-landing to help reduce demands on crew (e.g., neurocognitive, time); support meaningful work during long-duration missions; and mitigate potential decrements in operationally-relevant performance (e.g., training retention, problem-solving, procedure execution) during increasingly earth-independent, future exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team-101:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and evolution of the team throughout its life cycle for shifting autonomy and interface with automation in increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(3) Team-105:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy for all phases of increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date is now 8/31/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/23/16)

NOTE: End date is now 6/30/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 3/9/16)

NOTE: End date is now 3/5/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/8/15)

Task Description: 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. This project will determine how transmission delays impact team communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands and media constraints. A series of four studies will be conducted involving laboratory experiments and research in space-analog environments. The overall aim of the proposed research is to develop and validate protocols supporting Mission Control–space crew communication and collaboration during long-duration space missions. Specific project goals are: (1) Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks vs. tasks requiring analysis and decision making, and different communication media (voice vs. text). (2) Develop and validate measures to assess and characterize team communication effectiveness and task performance in relation to different operational tasks. (3) Develop and validate communication protocols to support joint problem solving and decision making by mission controllers and space crews during periods of asynchronous communication.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Our research will result in communication protocols and/or procedures that will support collaborative problem solving and decision making by teams that are distributed across Earth and space and communicating asynchronously. Communication protocols resulting from this research could also be used to support collaborative work within on-ground distributed synchronous teams, for instance, during military operations or in telemedicine. Moreover, the communication protocols also point to technological solutions. One example is the text tool that was adopted in one space simulation and assisted the crew with the temporal aspects of communication. Further improvements might be a less chat- and more email-like text tool that includes a subject header and links between related messages to make it easier for conversational partners to follow a conversational thread. A text tool could also provide a template that gives structure to a message and highlights its components. Likewise, voice communication could be facilitated if recordings of messages were available to both sender and receiver. Moreover, the recording could indicate when a message was transmitted, and it is conceivable that the recording tool would include prompts for specific message components.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2015 
Task Progress: The safety and success of future space missions will depend on the ability of crewmembers and mission control to collaborate effectively, even when communication between them is delayed. As missions travel further from the Earth, space-ground communication will involve significant delays, up to 20 minutes one way for missions to Mars. While the presence of communication delay will require future space crews to operate more autonomously than crews in current operations, the necessity of space-ground collaboration will remain. Solutions to mitigating the impact of communication delay that focus on faster transmission technology may succeed some day in providing seamless communication but current technology is not able to do so. It is therefore essential to explore solutions that focus on the communication process itself rather than transmission speed. In past research supported by this grant we identified specific communication issues associated with transmission delay and developed communication protocols to mitigate them. Our most recent efforts focused on the assessment of these protocols.

Specifically, major accomplishments for the past year are: (1) The feasibility of communication protocols to space missions was assessed in two analog environments [Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) and NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations NEEMO)]. (2) A complementary laboratory study examined whether the availability of protocols enhanced team communication and task performance of remote teams during communication delay. (3) Interviews with domain experts (Flight Surgeons and PayCom) were conducted to identify challenges of space-ground communication and strategies to mitigate them.

1. Research to Assess the Feasibility of Communication Protocols to Space Operations. The aim of this research was to assess the usability of voice- and text-based communication protocols for space operations. Protocols are structured communication templates designed to facilitate the collaboration of mission control and space crews under time-delayed conditions utilizing medium-specific affordances. The content of the protocols addresses the problems associated with asynchronous communication that were identified in our research during years 1 and 2 (see previous Task Book reports--Fischer & Mosier, 2014; Fischer, Mosier & Orasanu, 2013) as well as recommendations by Love and Reagan (2013); their structural characteristics were informed by schema-based approaches to instruction design (Morrow & Rogers, 2008; Morrow et al., 1996).

The effectiveness of the protocols was assessed in several space-analog simulation studies. One set of studies was conducted at the NASA Extreme Environment Operations (NEEMO) facility, an undersea research station 62 feet below sea level off Key Largo. A second set of studies took place in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), a space-analog habitat located at Johnson Space Center.

Participants in NEEMO-18 and NEEMO-19 agreed to use the protocols on the days on which communication with mission control was delayed, either by 5 or 10 minutes. Each mission involved four crewmembers from the astronaut corps of NASA and its international partners (Canadian Space Agency-CSA; European Space Agency-ESA; Japanese Space Exploration Agency-JAXA). Participants in the HERA missions were astronaut-like research volunteers; that is, they were comparable to astronauts in terms of education, personality, and age. Each HERA mission included four crewmembers. Communication between crewmembers and mission control was delayed on 2 days by 10 minutes one-way.

NEEMO crewmembers and two of the four HERA crews received 30 minutes of communication training prior to their missions. HERA crewmembers of missions 1 and 2 served as control and thus did not participate in any communication training. Communication training discussed the challenges of asynchronous communication and explained the elements of the communication protocols and conventions.

In all NEEMO and HERA missions communication delay occurred on consecutive mission days, on four days in NEEMO and 2 days in HERA. Copies of the communication protocols were given to trained participants at the start of a mission to serve as a reference aid on days with a communication delay.

Daily surveys were administered throughout a mission asking participants to rate the effectiveness of their interactions with mission control. On days with a communication delay participants were also asked to evaluate the extent to which the protocol was effective in supporting communication with mission control during specific tasks. A final survey requested feedback on individual elements of the communication protocols.

Descriptive analyses indicate that trained participants generally considered the protocols to be effective in supporting crew-mission control communication when there was a transmission delay. Moreover, participants thought that the effectiveness of their interactions with mission control did not suffer when communication was delayed. In contrast, untrained HERA crewmembers gave considerably lower effectiveness ratings on time-delayed days compared to days with synchronous communication. Untrained HERA participants also commented that they were less willing to contact mission control for guidance on tasks when their communication was delayed. As a result, as Mission Control noted, they performed the tasks improperly and required time-consuming additional assistance from ground.

Trained participants generally rated protocol elements as fairly critical to ensuring effective communication during asynchronous conditions. However, ratings for some items—most notably, pushing and chunking information and tracking time—were surprisingly low and pointed to specific training needs and technological improvements. Communication training for current HERA crewmembers has been modified as a result of these findings. Training has been increased to 60 minutes to give participants time to analyze examples of team communication under delayed conditions and to discuss how protocol elements can mitigate the challenges of asynchronous team communication. Research is ongoing to assess the effectiveness of these revisions.

The importance of technological improvements is apparent in NEEMO 19. During this mission the crew opted to use exclusively text as their communication medium on time-delayed days. The crew’s preference may reflect the implementation in this mission of a new text tool (VOXER) whose features seem better suited to meet the demands of asynchronous communication than the text tool available to the NEEMO-18 crew and the HERA crews.

Overall these research findings suggest that asynchronous communication may be facilitated by protocols that aid remote team members in keeping track of conversational threads and the temporal sequence of messages. A complementary lab study with a larger N has been conducted to test this hypothesis.

2. Laboratory Study to Assess the Effectiveness of the Communication Protocols. The same task environment (AutoCAMS) as in our research in years 1 and 2 was used to assess whether the availability of protocols enhanced team communication and task performance of remote teams during communication delay. AutoCAMS (Manzey et al., 2008) simulates the life support system of a spacecraft, and in our task design, requires teams of three participants to diagnose and repair system failures. One participant in each team is assigned the role of Flight Systems Engineer (FSE) whom the Pioneer crew, comprised of the other two team members, have to contact for assistance with failures in the life support system onboard their exploration spacecraft. The FSE is located onboard the fictional US Space Station.

Teams were randomly assigned to either the Protocol (i.e., experimental) or No-Protocol (i.e., control) condition. Participants in the experimental group received the communication protocols and 30 minutes of communication instruction as part of their position-specific (FSE or Pioneer crewmember) task training. Participants in the control group received only task specific training. After training, participants completed two 90-min sessions, one in which the communication between the Pioneer crew and the FSE was voice-based, and one that provided only text communication. Communication between remote team members in both sessions was delayed by 5 minutes. During each mission, the Pioneer crew and the FSE had to collaborate on two system failures.

Initial analysis showed that the availability of communication protocols did not have a significant effect on teams’ task performance in terms of time to resolve failures, incorrect repair attempts, or number of correct repairs. Communication protocols, however, did facilitate team communication. Specifically, communication by teams in the Protocol condition was more coherent (i.e., involved fewer anaphoric expressions, incomplete transmissions, missing responses, or unnecessary requests due to insensitivity to the transmission delay) and tended to be more compact (i.e., related information, such as diagnostic cues, were presented together in one communication rather than across several communications). As some teams in the experimental group apparently did not comply with instructions while teams in the control group adopted ad-hoc protocol-like conventions, additional analyses are planned to account for participants’ adherence to protocol elements in relation to task performance and team communication.

3. Interviews with Domain-Experts on the Challenges of Space-Ground Communication. Interviews were conducted with two Flight Surgeons and one PayCom to characterize challenges of space-ground communication in current operations, to discuss the impact of communication delay, and to learn about communication strategies operational experience taught them. A common sentiment was that space-ground communication is especially critical in situations that are time-limited and dynamically changing, and in which mission control needs to aid crewmembers who have less technical or medical knowledge and expertise. Voice communication was the preferred medium that as required by a task, should be augmented by video and text. Experts mentioned several strategies to ensure effective communication: avoid the use of technical jargon and rely on generic terms instead, or establish a shared vocabulary up front; clearly structure your communication and, dependent on the situation, anticipate potential task outcomes and information needs; provide detailed instructions and specify what information the crew needs to report back; mentally tag individual communications to maintain the thread. Experts also emphasized the importance of joint training of ground support and crewmembers to establish mutual trust. These strategies are consistent with the communication protocols we developed as well as our current training approach that involves a joint session with HERA crews and HabComs.

References:

Love, S. G. & Reagan, M. L. (2013). Delayed voice communication. Acta Astronautica 91, 89-95.

Morrow, D. G. & Rogers, W. A. (2008). Environmental support: An integrative framework. Human Factors 50(4), 589-613.

Morrow, D. G., Leirer, Von O., Andrassy, J. M., Decker Tanke, E., & Stine-Morrow, E. (1996). Medication instruction design: Younger and older adult schemas for taking medication. Human Factors 38(4), 556-573.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/06/2021) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Fischer U, 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 Sep;58(1):115-9. (58th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Chicago, IL, October 27-31, 2014.) http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1541931214581025 , Sep-2014
Dissertations and Theses Gonzalez K. "Characteristics fostering effective teamwork in space flights." BS Honors Thesis, San Francisco State University, May 2015. , May-2015
Papers from Meeting Proceedings Fischer U, Mosier K. "Communication protocols to support collaboration in distributed teams under asynchronous conditions." 59th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Los Angeles, CA, October 26–30, 2015.

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Los Angeles, CA, October 26–30, 2015. In press as of July 2015. , Jul-2015

Papers from Meeting Proceedings Gonzalez K, Mosier KL, Lam J, Fischer U. "Characteristics impacting teamwork and performance for space operations." 59th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Los Angeles, CA, October 26–30, 2015.

Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Los Angeles, CA, October 26–30, 2015. In press as of July 2015. , Jul-2015

Significant Media Coverage Meyers M. "Description of research on asynchronous communication under the title 'Improving communication on a cosmic scale.' " InterSci (A publication of the San Francisco State University College of Science and Engineering). 2014 Nov;p. 51-55., Nov-2014
Project Title:  Protocols for Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations: Communication Analysis Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2014 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/06/2012  
End Date: 03/05/2016  
Task Last Updated: 07/05/2014 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Fischer, Ute  Ph.D. / Georgia Institute of Technology 
Address:  School of Literature, Communication and Culture 
686 Cherry Street 
Atlanta , GA 30332-0165 
Email: ute.fischer@gatech.edu 
Phone: 404-894-7627  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Georgia Institute of Technology 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Mosier, Kathleen  California State University, San Fransisco 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR19G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR19G 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: Yes 
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) HSIA:Risk of Adverse Outcome Due to Inadequate Human Systems Integration Architecture (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) HSIA-601:We need to determine individual and team-based Human System Integration (HSI) training procedures, regimens, and standards that are required pre- and in-mission, and post-landing to help reduce demands on crew (e.g., neurocognitive, time); support meaningful work during long-duration missions; and mitigate potential decrements in operationally-relevant performance (e.g., training retention, problem-solving, procedure execution) during increasingly earth-independent, future exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team-101:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and evolution of the team throughout its life cycle for shifting autonomy and interface with automation in increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(3) Team-105:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy for all phases of increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date is now 3/5/2016 per NSSC information (Ed., 6/8/15)

Task Description: 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. This project will determine how transmission delays impact team communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands and media constraints. A series of four studies will be conducted involving laboratory experiments and research in space-analog environments. The overall aim of the proposed research is to develop and validate protocols supporting Mission Control–space crew communication and collaboration during long-duration space missions. Specific project goals are: (1) Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks vs. tasks requiring analysis and decision making, and different communication media (voice vs. text). (2) Develop and validate measures to assess and characterize team communication effectiveness and task performance in relation to different operational tasks. (3) Develop and validate communication protocols to support joint problem solving and decision making by mission controllers and space crews during periods of asynchronous communication.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Our research will result in communication protocols and/or procedures that will support collaborative problem solving and decision making by teams that are distributed across Earth and space and communicating asynchronously. Communication protocols resulting from this research could also be used to support collaborative work within on-ground distributed synchronous teams, for instance, during military operations or in telemedicine.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2014 
Task Progress: Major accomplishments for Year 2 are: (1) Analysis of team performance and communication data collected during Year 1. Data were from a laboratory experiment [San Francisco State University (SFSU) Study 1] that examined the impact of communication delay and media on teamwork in remote teams. (2) Participation in two simulations in the Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility to determine the impact of long intervals of communication delays on teamwork. (3) Development of media-specific communication protocols and conventions to support collaboration in distributed teams communicating asynchronously. (4) Evaluation of these communication protocols in the laboratory (SFSU Study 2) and in two analog environments (HERA and NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations NEEMO).

1. SFSU Study 1: Impact of Communication Delay on Teamwork and Task Performance.

The overall aim of this experiment was to determine the impact of transmission delay on team communication and task performance in relation to varying task demands (procedural vs. ill-defined), and different communication media (voice vs. text). Spatially distributed teams of three collaborated in a computer-based task environment and communicated either by voice-over-internet or via a texting tool. The micro-world for the study was AutoCAMS 2.0 (Manzey et al., 2008) which simulates the life support system of a spacecraft and requires team members to monitor and control different subsystems, and to diagnose and repair system failures. Each team was required to perform procedural and problem solving tasks during one synchronous and one asynchronous (5-min delay in communications transmission) flight segment. The experiment extended through two days: day 1 involved 2-3 hours of position-specific (Flight System Engineer, FSE, or Pioneer Crewmember) task training; day 2 consisted of two 90-minute experimental sessions. 72 (24 teams of 3) undergraduate and graduate students between the ages of 21-55 participated. Task performance was measured in terms of time required to initiate a successful repair (= repair duration) as well as accuracy of the repair procedure. Communication analysis focused on the interactions between the FSE and the Pioneer crew during the failure repair tasks. To date detailed analysis have been completed for communications occurring under time delayed conditions as findings were a precondition for the design of the communication protocols and their validation in SFSU Study 2 and the HERA and NEEMO missions.

Analyses revealed that transmission delay impacted repair duration and more importantly, that its effect varied by communication medium. When communication was delayed, teams used a comparable amount of time to repair system failures, irrespective of the communication medium used. However, when communication was synchronous, voice teams outperformed text groups. Likewise, teams’ accuracy in performing system repairs was influenced by communication medium. Overall, teams communicating by text undertook more incorrect repairs than teams communicating by voice, although this effect was most pronounced when communication was synchronous as opposed to asynchronous. The analysis of team communication focused on Pioneer Crew/FSE interactions during transmission delay. Medium-specific differences concerned structural aspects of team communication (i.e., communication rate; distance between adjacency pairs, such as question and answer) as well as content variables (i.e., use of ambiguous terms; missing responses). Specifically, text teams made shorter and more frequent communications than voice teams, and in so doing kept adjacency pairs further apart (e.g., questions and answers were separated by more communications when using text). Text teams were more likely to use ambiguous terms; that is, terms whose meaning was underspecified (e.g., “We have a problem”) or could not be established within a turn but rested on information in preceding turns. These differences are consistent with medium-specific opportunities and constraints. Text provides participants with a written record of their on-going conversation, and thus may help them to keep track of related contributions and the identity of referents. Voice communication is cognitively more taxing than text-based communication insofar as participants need to remember their ongoing discourse to interpret new information. Voice teams seemingly adapted to this constraint by talking less frequently while packing more information into one turn than text teams; this behavior kept related communications closely aligned and that may have aided comprehension.

However, in both text and voice teams instances of miscommunication in which team members failed to account for the communication delay were evident. Team members mistook a remote partner’s communication that immediately followed their own transmission as a response to it, or they repeated a message before they could have received a response from their partner. These instances required additional communication in which team members clarified their situation understanding, or they spiraled into misunderstanding from which team members never recovered and thus were unable to repair a system failure. These findings led to the design of media-specific communication protocols that sought to minimize the risk of miscommunication and to help remote team members communicate efficiently under time-delayed conditions. Communication protocols will be described below in section (3). Additional analyses are planned to relate communication behavior by voice and text teams to their task performance.

2. Analog Research to Examine the Impact of Longer (10-min) Communication Delay on Teamwork

We were invited to participate in two HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) simulations (Feb/March 2014; April 2014) to examine the impact of a 10 min transmission delay on team communication under different media conditions. These studies were not part of our Year 2 proposed work; rather we were responding to the opportunity to participate in collaborative research within a space analog environment and to collect data from astronaut-like participants. Two days of the 7-day simulations involved a communication delay of 10 min; on one of these days communication between the HERA crew and mission control was voice-only; on the other day participants had voice and text communication available to them. The four HERA crew members and 6 mission control personnel responded to daily surveys asking them to rate the effectiveness of their communication during specific tasks, and on the day with voice and text communication to explain their choice of medium. In addition to the surveys, we plan to analyze crew-mission control interactions using the same coding categories as in SFSU Study 1. Analysis is ongoing. Survey responses indicate that crew members decided to talk less with mission control on days with communication delay but generally judged their interactions to be effective on these days. Choice of communication medium was driven by task constraints—voice was preferred during tasks requiring manual input—and by communication goal; that is, crew members preferred text to communicate task completion and voice to request assistance from mission control. 3. Design of Medium-Specific Communication Protocols

The structure of the communication protocols was informed by schema-based approaches to instructional design (Morrow & Rogers, 2008; Morrow et al., 1996; 1998; 2005); their specific content was based on findings in SFSU Study 1 and our analysis of space-ground communication in the Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO) study (Fischer, Mosier & Orasanu 2013), as well as recommendations discussed by Love and Reagan (2013). The overall design objective was to facilitate remote collaboration under time-delayed conditions utilizing medium-specific opportunities. Specific design goals included: to help remote team members keep track of conversational threads and the temporal sequence of contributions, and to establish common ground in an efficient manner. The effectiveness of the communication protocols is being assessed in the laboratory with student participants as well as in analog environments (see section 4 below).

4. Evaluation of Communication Protocols

The same task environment (AutoCams) as in SFSU Study 1 was used to assess the effectiveness of the communication protocols. Participants in the experimental group received the communication protocols and instructions on how to apply them as part of their position-specific (FSE or Pioneer crew member) task training. Participants in the control group received only task specific training. After training, participants completed two 90-min sessions, one in which the communication between the Pioneer crew and the FSE was voice-based, and one that provided only text communication. Communication between remote team members in both sessions was delayed by 5 minutes. The study design included 24 teams of three; data collection was completed at the end of June 2014.

The communication protocols have also been introduced in two analog environments to evaluate their effectiveness with astronaut-like participants (HERA-C1M3) and astronauts (NEEMO 18 and 19). Participants in all three simulations received communication training in June 2014. The HERA mission was completed in June; NEEMO 18 is scheduled for July 2014, and NEEMO 19 for September 2014. Participants are being asked to follow the communication protocols in crew-mission control interactions on mission days with a transmission delay and to complete surveys concerning their effectiveness and the importance of individual components. These studies are part of research proposed for Year 3.

References

Love, S. G. & Reagan, M. L. (2013). Delayed voice communication. Acta Astronautica 91, 89-95.

Manzey, D., Bleil, M., Bahner-Heyne, J. E., Klostermann, A., Onnasch, L., Reichenbach, J., & Röttger, S. (2008). AutoCAMS 2.0 Manual . Berlin: Technical University of Berlin.

Morrow, D. G. & Rogers, W. A. (2008). Environmental support: An integrative framework. Human Factors 50(4), 589-613.

Morrow, D. G., Leirer, Von O., Andrassy, J. M., Decker Tanke, E., & Stine-Morrow, E. (1996). Medication instruction design: Younger and older adult schemas for taking medication. Human Factors 38(4), 556-573.

Morrow, D. G., Leirer, Von O., Andrassy, J. M., Hier, C. M., & Menard, W. E., (1998). The influence of list format and category headers on age differences in understanding medication instructions. Experimental Aging Research , 24, 231-256.

Morrow , D. G., Weiner, M., Young, J., Steinley, D., Deer, M., & Murray, M. D. (2005). Improving medication knowledge among older adults with heart failure: A patient-centered approach to instruction design. The Gerontologist , 45(4), 545-552.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/06/2021) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Fischer U, Miller C, Morrow D, Mosier K, Orasanu J, Veinott B. "Exploring communication in remote teams: Issues and methods." Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2013 Sep;57(1):309-13. (57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, September 30-October 4, 2013.) http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1541931213571068 , Sep-2013
Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Fischer U, Mosier K, Orasanu J. "The impact of transmission delays on Mission Control-Space Crew communication." Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting. 2013 Sep;57(1):1372-6. (57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, September 30-October 4, 2013.) http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1541931213571303 , Sep-2013
Papers from Meeting Proceedings Fischer U, Mosier K. "The impact of transmission delay and medium on team communication and task performance by distributed teams." 58th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Chicago, IL, October 27-31, 2014.

Proceedings of the 58th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Chicago, IL, October 27-31, 2014. In press as of July 2014. , Jul-2014

Project Title:  Protocols for Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations: Communication Analysis Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2013 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/06/2012  
End Date: 09/05/2015  
Task Last Updated: 07/07/2013 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Fischer, Ute  Ph.D. / Georgia Institute of Technology 
Address:  School of Literature, Communication and Culture 
686 Cherry Street 
Atlanta , GA 30332-0165 
Email: ute.fischer@gatech.edu 
Phone: 404-894-7627  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Georgia Institute of Technology 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Mosier, Kathleen  California State University, San Fransisco 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR19G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR19G 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: Yes 
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) HSIA:Risk of Adverse Outcome Due to Inadequate Human Systems Integration Architecture (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) HSIA-601:We need to determine individual and team-based Human System Integration (HSI) training procedures, regimens, and standards that are required pre- and in-mission, and post-landing to help reduce demands on crew (e.g., neurocognitive, time); support meaningful work during long-duration missions; and mitigate potential decrements in operationally-relevant performance (e.g., training retention, problem-solving, procedure execution) during increasingly earth-independent, future exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team-101:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and evolution of the team throughout its life cycle for shifting autonomy and interface with automation in increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(3) Team-105:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy for all phases of increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
Task Description: 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. This project will determine how transmission delays impact team communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands and media constraints. A series of four studies will be conducted involving laboratory experiments and research in space-analog environments. The overall aim of the proposed research is to develop and validate protocols supporting Mission Control–space crew communication and collaboration during long-duration space missions. Specific project goals are: (1) Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks vs. tasks requiring analysis and decision making, and different communication media (voice vs. text). (2) Develop and validate measures to assess and characterize team communication effectiveness and task performance in relation to different operational tasks. (3) Develop and validate communication protocols to support joint problem solving and decision making by mission controllers and space crews during periods of asynchronous communication.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Our research will result in communication protocols and/or procedures that will support collaborative problem solving and decision making by teams that are distributed across Earth and space and communicating asynchronously. Communication protocols resulting from this research could also be used to support collaborative work within on-ground distributed synchronous teams, for instance during military operations or in telemedicine.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2013 
Task Progress: Our goals for Year 1 were to conduct two empirical studies addressing Objective 1: Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork, and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks vs. tasks requiring analysis and decision making, and different communication media (voice vs. text).

Study 1 consists of an analysis of crew-ground communications under various transmission delays. These data were collected during the Autonomous Mission Operations (AMO) study conducted in the Deep Space Habitat (DSH) at JSC in May/June 2012. Study 2 is a laboratory experiment examining the impact of transmission delay on team communication under different media conditions and in relation to different task characteristics.

Despite delays in initial funding, we are on target with respect to both of these goals: Study 1 has been completed; Study 2 is ongoing and will be completed by end of Year 1. Moreover, our costs have remained within the projected budget.

Study 1: Exploratory Communication Analysis of AMO Simulation Data. Our analysis of the AMO communication data examined how transmission delays of 50 sec and 300 sec impacted the interactions between flight controllers and space crews during routine and off-nominal tasks. There were four teams; each consisting of eight flight controllers and four space crewmembers. Audio-recordings of space-ground communications were transcribed and their structure (turn taking and sequence) and content examined. Our analysis addressed communication problems as well as communication strategies that may have helped the flight controllers and space crews establish and maintain common ground (i.e., mutual task and situation awareness).

Transmission delay, irrespective of length, disrupted the structure of space-ground communications as contributions by flight controllers and astronauts overlapped or were out of sequence. Both types of disruptions likely increase team members’ cognitive workload. The former necessitates that speakers repeat their contributions while the latter requires team members to keep track of multiple open issues. Transmission delays were also associated with several problems of communication content: (a) Space crewmembers and flight controllers did not consistently identify themselves or their addressee at the beginning of a turn; (b) they frequently failed to mark the end of their turn, for instance by using phrases such as over; and (c) they tended to provide minimal or ambiguous evidence of their understanding, or failed to respond altogether to a partner’s communication. While dropped identifiers apparently did not hamper space-ground communications in our sample, this behavior could potentially impair mutual understanding as partners may mistake the identity of the speaker or recipient of a communication and ultimately may misunderstand its intended meaning. Inadequate listener feedback, such as we copy all, or we copy your last (after several transmissions by the same speaker), indicate receipt of a message but deprive speakers of the opportunity to verify that their message was understood as intended. Omissions of identifiers and inadequate listener feedback were observed under both transmission delay conditions.

Our analysis also underscored the importance of several strategies that could support team communication under time-delayed conditions. Turn taking seemed to be facilitated if speakers announced specific times at which their addressees could expect a transmission. Mutual understanding may also be enhanced when speakers specify the topic of a message, present complex messages in meaningful chunks, and repeat crucial information. Listeners, in turn, need to provide evidence of their understanding so that problems of hearing and comprehension are detected and repaired as quickly as possible.

Study 1 provided first insights into the effects of transmission delays on team communication; however, it is limited by its small sample and the fact that there was no synchronous condition included in the experimental design. Study 2 was designed to build on our analysis in Study 1 by conducting a lab experiment to investigate team communication under synchronous and asynchronous conditions with a larger sample.

Study 2: Impact of Communication Delay on Teamwork and Task Performance. The overall aim of Study 2, currently being conducted at San Francisco State University, is to determine the impact of transmission delay on team communication and task performance in relation to varying task demands (procedural vs. ill-defined), and different communication media (voice vs. text). Spatially distributed teams of three collaborate in a computer-based task environment and communicate either by voice-over-internet or via a texting tool. The micro-world for the study is AutoCAMS 2.0 (Manzey et al., 2008) which simulates the life support system of a spacecraft and requires team members to monitor and control different subsystems, and to diagnose and repair failures. Each team is required to perform procedural and problem solving tasks during one synchronous and one asynchronous (5-min delay) flight segment. The experiment extends through two days: day 1 involves 2-3 hours of position-specific (Flight System Engineer, FSE, or Pioneer Crewmember) task training; day 2 consists of two 90-minute experimental sessions.

Task performance measures (i.e., interactions with the AutoCAMS system) are collected by the computer-based experimental task. Task performance measures include time to task completion, thoroughness of diagnosis and of procedure, and accuracy on main and secondary tasks. Communication measures. Team members’ voice communications are recorded on the time-delay server as mp3 files and transcribed for coding; team members’ email messages are simply uploaded. Team members are also video-recorded as visual data provides contextual information facilitating communication analyses. The analysis of team members’ voice and text-based communications includes the same process and content variables examined in Study 1.

Predictions: Communication media and transmission delay will significantly impact communication strategies and task performance. We hypothesize that transmission delay will be associated with decrements in task performance, less explicit and less structured communication, more misunderstandings, and more conflict compared with synchronous communication. These effects are predicted to be most evident when team members perform ill-defined (problem solving) tasks and rely on voice communication.

To date, 19 teams have completed the experiment. Data collection and analysis is ongoing and expected to be completed by the end of Year 1.

Preliminary analyses of task performance data indicate that diagnoses and correct repairs were accomplished more quickly when there was no time delay compared to legs with time delay, and suggest that team collaboration may be facilitated by voice communication during synchronous conditions while as hypothesized, text-based communication may enhance task performance during asynchronous conditions. Problems concerning the structure and content of team members’ communications have been identified, as well as strategies that may support mutual understanding. Once data collection is complete, statistical analyses will be conducted to relate communication delay and media conditions to task characteristics, team performance and team communication measures.

Reference: Manzey, D., Bleil, M., Bahner-Heyne, J. E., Klostermann, A., Onnasch, L., Reichenbach, J., & Röttger, S. (2008). AutoCAMS 2.0 Manual. Berlin: Technical University of Berlin.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/06/2021) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Fischer U, Mosier K, Orasanu J. "Issues of Grounding and Team Coordination in Asynchronous Communication." Presented at the 11th International Conference on Naturalistic Decision Making, Marseille, France, May 22-24, 2013.

11th International Conference on Naturalistic Decision Making, Marseille, France, May 22-24, 2013. , May-2013

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Mosier K, Fischer U, Munc A, Reich K, Fox D, Swarts J, Maurath D, Carucci L, Orasanu J. "Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations." Presented at the 2013 San Francisco State University Graduate Studies Showcase, San Francisco, CA, May 2, 2013.

2013 San Francisco State University Graduate Studies Showcase, San Francisco, CA, May 2, 2013. , May-2013

Books/Book Chapters Fischer U, Mosier K, Orasanu J. "Issues of grounding and team coordination in asynchronous mission control-space crew interactions." in "Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Naturalistic Decision Making." Ed. H. Chaudet, L. Pellegrin, N. Bonnardel. Paris, France : Arpege Science Publishing, 2013. p. 193-196., May-2013
Papers from Meeting Proceedings Fischer U, Mosier K, Orasanu J. "The impact of transmission delays on Mission Control-Space Crew Communication." 57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, September 30-October 4, 2013.

Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. In press, as of July 2013. , Jul-2013

Papers from Meeting Proceedings Fischer U, Mosier K, Morrow D, Miller C, Veinott B, Orasanu J. "Exploring Communication in Remote Teams: Issues and Methods." 57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, San Diego, CA, September 30-October 4, 2013. Panel organized for the meeting.

Proceedings of the 57th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. In press, as of July 2013. , Jul-2013

Project Title:  Protocols for Asynchronous Communication in Space Operations: Communication Analysis Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2012 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 09/06/2012  
End Date: 09/05/2015  
Task Last Updated: 10/05/2012 
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Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Fischer, Ute  Ph.D. / Georgia Institute of Technology 
Address:  School of Literature, Communication and Culture 
686 Cherry Street 
Atlanta , GA 30332-0165 
Email: ute.fischer@gatech.edu 
Phone: 404-894-7627  
Congressional District:
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Georgia Institute of Technology 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Mosier, Kathleen  California State University, San Fransisco 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX12AR19G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2011 Crew Health NNJ11ZSA002NA 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX12AR19G 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
TechPort: Yes 
No. of Post Docs:  
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Human Research Program Elements: (1) BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) HSIA:Risk of Adverse Outcome Due to Inadequate Human Systems Integration Architecture (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team:Risk of Performance and Behavioral Health Decrements Due to Inadequate Cooperation, Coordination, Communication, and Psychosocial Adaptation within a Team (IRP Rev F)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) HSIA-601:We need to determine individual and team-based Human System Integration (HSI) training procedures, regimens, and standards that are required pre- and in-mission, and post-landing to help reduce demands on crew (e.g., neurocognitive, time); support meaningful work during long-duration missions; and mitigate potential decrements in operationally-relevant performance (e.g., training retention, problem-solving, procedure execution) during increasingly earth-independent, future exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(2) Team-101:We need to understand the key threats, indicators, and evolution of the team throughout its life cycle for shifting autonomy and interface with automation in increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
(3) Team-105:We need to identify a set of countermeasures to support team function and enable multiple distributed teams to manage shifting levels of autonomy for all phases of increasingly earth independent, long duration exploration missions (IRP Rev L)
Task Description: 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. This project will determine how transmission delays impact team communication, teamwork and task performance in relation to varying task demands and media constraints. A series of four studies will be conducted involving laboratory experiments and research in space-analog environments. The overall aim of the proposed research is to develop and validate protocols supporting Mission Control–space crew communication and collaboration during long-duration space missions. Specific project goals are: (1) Determine the impact of communication delays on communication, teamwork and task performance in relation to varying task demands, i.e., procedural tasks vs. tasks requiring analysis and decision making, and different communication media (voice vs. text). (2) Develop and validate measures to assess and characterize team communication effectiveness and task performance in relation to different operational tasks. (3) Develop and validate communication protocols to support joint problem solving and decision making by mission controllers and space crews during periods of asynchronous communication.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

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

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 12/06/2021) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2012