Planned missions to be conducted in Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) Campaign 6 and in the NEK (Nezemnyy Eksperimental’nyy Kompleks) facility SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station)-- SIRIUS 20/21-- were delayed by a year due to Covid-19. Both simulations were expected to start in November 2020. HERA C6 is currently scheduled to begin no earlier than mid-September 2021 and SIRIUS 21 (formerly SIRIUS 20) is scheduled for November 2021. As a result of these delays, our efforts during the past year pertained to the planning of HERA C6 and SIRIUS 21.
Furthermore, since no new data were collected, analyses during the past year focused on data that were obtained during HERA C5 and SIRIUS 19 and that were not covered in last year’s report. Data pertain to participants’ responses to surveys that tap individual traits (i.e., Need for Autonomy; Resilience) and knowledge (i.e., Teamwork Model) critical to successful autonomous space exploration missions. We also examined the communications between crew and crew/mission control (MCC) that occurred during experimental tasks. Descriptive analyses only were conducted since meaningful inferential and modeling approaches will require the larger N that data collection in HERA C6 and SIRIUS 21 will supply.
Need for Autonomy (Yun et al., 2006) is a 3-item measure to assess an “individual trait or predisposition that refers to a personal need or eagerness to take or display one’s initiative in doing one’s own job.” A participant’s score can range from 1 (indicating little need for autonomy) to 5 (indicating high need for autonomy). The analysis of HERA and SIRIUS crewmembers’ responses revealed that their scores ranged from 3 (i.e., a neutral attitude towards autonomy) to 5 (i.e., a strong predisposition towards autonomy). The analysis also revealed that some crews showed less variability in members’ self-reported need for autonomy than others. Future analyses involving data collected in HERA C6 and SIRIUS 21 will examine whether individual differences regarding this trait relate to the cohesion and group dynamics within a crew.
The Brief Resilience Scale (Smith et al., 2008) includes 6 items that assess an individual’s “ability to bounce back or recover from stress.” A participant’s score can range from 1 (indicating low resilience) to 5 (indicating high resilience). The analysis of HERA and SIRIUS crewmembers’ ratings showed that resilience scores fell between 3 and 5; i.e., scores ranged from moderately to highly resilient. Moreover, crews were found to differ concerning the average resilience score of their members and the variability in scores between members of a crew. Future analyses on a larger data set will need to explore whether and how these differences relate to team process (cohesion, group dynamics) and task performance variables.
Teamwork Model. Crewmembers’ and MCC personnel’s model of teamwork was assessed early in their mission-related training to determine whether members of the crew/MCC multiteam system had a shared understanding of teamwork. The survey included eight teamwork concepts and their definitions—Leadership; Mutual Performance Monitoring; Backup Behavior; Adaptability; Team Orientation; Shared Mental Models; Mutual Trust; and Team Communication. Participants were presented with pairs of concepts (e.g., Leadership and Team Communication; Leadership and Trust; etc.) and asked to rate how closely related the concepts within a given pair were.
Participants’ ratings were analyzed using Pathfinder (Schvaneveldt, 1990), a software that generates a network representation to capture the underlying relationships between proximity data. Average representations were created for each crew and for the MCC personnel interacting with a given crew. The models generated revealed considerable agreement between members of the crew/MCC multiteam system concerning central teamwork concepts. Central concepts for HERA crews and MCC were team communication and leadership. SIRIUS crew and MCC also considered team communication to be a central concept of teamwork. Interestingly, leadership was not a central concept in the teamwork model generated for SIRIUS MCC personnel. This may reflect differences in the operational role MCC played in the HERA missions compared to SIRIUS 19. Since SIRIUS 19 involved high crew autonomy, MCC in this mission was cast in a more supportive role than MCC in HERA. HERA C5 missions followed current operations with MCC largely in control of a mission. Data from HERA C6 and SIRIUS 21are needed to explore this issue further.
Crew/MCC Communication during Experimental Tasks. Communication coding focused on task-related exchanges between crew and MCC. An exchange was defined as communication sequence consisting of two parts: the presentation of information by a speaker, and the addressee’s answer in which he/she provides evidence of attention, understanding and uptake (Clark, 1996). Coding identified the MTS member (crew or MCC) who initiated the exchange and classified the type of contribution—that is, whether the speaker pushed information (i.e., informed, gave directions or assistance to the addressee) or whether he/she pulled information (i.e., requested information or assistance from the addressee).
The analysis of crew/MCC communications in HERA showed that regardless of task event, most exchanges were initiated by the crew. Moreover, these contacts predominantly involved information sharing. Since crewmembers volunteered task-related information, there apparently was little need for MCC to request (i.e., pull) information from crewmembers. Accordingly, in most exchanges that were initiated by MCC, they provided information or directed crewmembers’ actions. Results from this analysis will serve as baseline for the analysis of crew/MCC communication in HERA C6 missions that will involve comparable tasks but varying levels of crew autonomy.
In SIRIUS, most task-related communications were found to be initiated by MCC who predominantly asked the crew for information, most frequently to submit some report; that is, information requests tended to concern updates on crew performance.
Clark, H. H. (1996). Using Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Schvaneveldt, R. W. (1990). Pathfinder associative networks: Studies in knowledge organization. Ablex Publishing.
Smith, B. W., Dalen, J., Wiggins, K., Tooley, E., et al. (2008). The Brief Resilience Scale: Assessing the ability to bounce back. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15, 194-200.
Yun, S., Cox, J., & Sims Jr., H. P. (2006). The forgotten follower: a contingency model of leadership and follower self-leadership. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21(4), 374-388.