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Task Book: Biological & Physical Sciences Division and Human Research Program
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Project Title:  Assessing Team Performance in Autonomous Environments Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2011 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 03/01/2010  
End Date: 10/31/2010  
Task Last Updated: 12/20/2011 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Keeton, Kathryn  Ph.D. / Wyle/NASA Johnson Space Center 
Address:  1290 Hercules Drive, Suite 120 
 
Houston , TX 77058 
Email: kathryn.keeton@nasa.gov 
Phone: 281-204-1519  
Congressional District: 22 
Web:  
Organization Type: NASA CENTER 
Organization Name: Wyle/NASA Johnson Space Center 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Reagan, Marcum  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. Directed Research 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Leveton, Lauren  
Center Contact:  
lauren.b.leveton@nasa5.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: Directed Research 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
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)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed01:We need to identify and validate countermeasures that promote individual behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (IRP Rev F)
(2) Team06:Given the context of long duration missions, what are ways to support and enable multiple distributed autonomous teams to support task performance, teamwork, and psycho-social performance? (Wordsmithed, now Team Gap 6, per IRP Rev D)
Task Description: For future exploration missions, we anticipate a change in the current model of interaction, procedural functioning, and communication between crew members and ground control. Due to the nature of future missions (i.e., missions to the moon and to Mars), there are expected to be communication delays and associated technical difficulties that are currently not experienced. These communication delays and other difficulties will require the crew to work semi-autonomously. Generally, autonomy is defined as the level of discretion and freedom an individual or team is given to perform tasks, including decision making and problem solving, as well as other general duties. It encompasses much more than the freedom to create one’s schedule and outcomes of an autonomous environment are highly inter-dependent among team members. In the context of spaceflight, autonomy refers to the extent to which the crew will act independently from mission control to complete objectives and/or respond to complications/emergency situations when needed due to environmental conditions (i.e., distance), as well as the extent to which the crew will prioritize mission objectives and schedule activities. In a recent workshop held by the Behavioral Health & Performance Research Element, subject matter experts consented to a definition of autonomous operations related to the environmental conditions of long duration missions, hereafter referred to as bounded autonomy. This term involves the conditions, constraints, and limits that influence the degree of discretion by the individual and [crew/team] over their choices, actions and support in accord with standard operating procedures. Based on the novel demands experienced on long-duration missions (e.g., psychosocial adaptation, chronic stress, strain, communication delays, social tension), studying the concept of bounded autonomy is a necessary step in understanding what challenges astronauts may face in these autonomous environments.

Although extensive ground research indicates that team autonomy has many positive effects on valued outcomes including team cohesion, team performance, and well-being of the employees, it is unclear how the effects of autonomy on workplace outcomes may be different in spaceflight. The aforementioned studies were all conducted in organizations, which provide an environment very different from that of a long-duration mission. Past research has not been based on the same level of autonomy as that expected to be experienced by astronauts on long duration missions. Indeed, rather than examining how teams perform in autonomous environments, past research focuses on role- and task- related autonomy. Thus, although autonomy likely affects performance, team cohesion, and interaction between crew and ground on long-duration missions, the relationships between these variables may differ from those observed in terrestrial populations. For example, time delays experienced in long-duration missions would prohibit mission control from providing critical information to the crew. Therefore, the crew must perform independently to achieve certain mission objectives and address possible issues, including accomplishing some tasks in which the crew has received no prior training. It is therefore essential to consider the constraints of a Mars-like condition (i.e., time delays) and conduct research that will investigate the effect of autonomy on team outcomes in isolated, constrained, and extreme environments.

In addition, the extent to which bounded autonomy poses a risk within the Behavioral Health & Performance Research Element needs to be quantified. In order to adequately quantify and reduce risk associated with behavioral health and performance-related issues for long duration missions, it is essential to determine what impact increased autonomy for future crews will have on completing mission objectives and achieving mission success. Currently, Team Gap6 addresses issues related to autonomy, however, future research that is needed in order to sufficiently close this gap has yet to be determined.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2011 
Task Progress: This task is complete; the initial analyses as well as the analyses included in the addendum demonstrate the need to further examine the impact of autonomy as well as identify and test specific countermeasures that may alleviate and mitigate the issues raised by increased autonomy (e.g., training, selection and composition strategies, technologies and other psychological support devices). These future research efforts will not only increase understanding of how and to what extent autonomy may impact aspects of a long duration mission for the crew, but provide the needed information in order to adequately mitigate the risks associated with autonomy in this context.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: )  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2011
Project Title:  Assessing Team Performance in Autonomous Environments Reduce
Fiscal Year: FY 2010 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP BHP:Behavioral Health & Performance (archival in 2017)
Start Date: 03/01/2010  
End Date: 10/31/2010  
Task Last Updated: 02/24/2011 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Keeton, Kathryn  Ph.D. / Wyle/NASA Johnson Space Center 
Address:  1290 Hercules Drive, Suite 120 
 
Houston , TX 77058 
Email: kathryn.keeton@nasa.gov 
Phone: 281-204-1519  
Congressional District: 22 
Web:  
Organization Type: NASA CENTER 
Organization Name: Wyle/NASA Johnson Space Center 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Reagan, Marcum  NASA Johnson Space Center 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. Directed Research 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Shea, Cami1e  
Center Contact: 281-244-2017 
shea@dsls.usra.edu 
Solicitation / Funding Source: Directed Research 
Grant/Contract No.: Directed Research 
Project Type: GROUND 
Flight Program:  
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)
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) BMed01:We need to identify and validate countermeasures that promote individual behavioral health and performance during exploration class missions (IRP Rev F)
(2) Team06:Given the context of long duration missions, what are ways to support and enable multiple distributed autonomous teams to support task performance, teamwork, and psycho-social performance? (Wordsmithed, now Team Gap 6, per IRP Rev D)
Task Description: For future exploration missions, we anticipate a change in the current model of interaction, procedural functioning, and communication between crew members and ground control. Due to the nature of future missions (i.e., missions to the moon and to Mars), there are expected to be communication delays and associated technical difficulties that are currently not experienced. These communication delays and other difficulties will require the crew to work semi-autonomously. Generally, autonomy is defined as the level of discretion and freedom an individual or team is given to perform tasks, including decision making and problem solving, as well as other general duties. It encompasses much more than the freedom to create one’s schedule and outcomes of an autonomous environment are highly inter-dependent among team members. In the context of spaceflight, autonomy refers to the extent to which the crew will act independently from mission control to complete objectives and/or respond to complications/emergency situations when needed due to environmental conditions (i.e., distance), as well as the extent to which the crew will prioritize mission objectives and schedule activities. In a recent workshop held by the Behavioral Health & Performance Research Element, subject matter experts consented to a definition of autonomous operations related to the environmental conditions of long duration missions, hereafter referred to as bounded autonomy. This term involves the conditions, constraints, and limits that influence the degree of discretion by the individual and [crew/team] over their choices, actions and support in accord with standard operating procedures. Based on the novel demands experienced on long-duration missions (e.g., psychosocial adaptation, chronic stress, strain, communication delays, social tension), studying the concept of bounded autonomy is a necessary step in understanding what challenges astronauts may face in these autonomous environments.

Although extensive ground research indicates that team autonomy has many positive effects on valued outcomes including team cohesion, team performance, and well-being of the employees, it is unclear how the effects of autonomy on workplace outcomes may be different in spaceflight. The aforementioned studies were all conducted in organizations, which provide an environment very different from that of a long-duration mission. Past research has not been based on the same level of autonomy as that expected to be experienced by astronauts on long duration missions. Indeed, rather than examining how teams perform in autonomous environments, past research focuses on role- and task- related autonomy. Thus, although autonomy likely affects performance, team cohesion, and interaction between crew and ground on long-duration missions, the relationships between these variables may differ from those observed in terrestrial populations. For example, time delays experienced in long-duration missions would prohibit mission control from providing critical information to the crew. Therefore, the crew must perform independently to achieve certain mission objectives and address possible issues, including accomplishing some tasks in which the crew has received no prior training. It is therefore essential to consider the constraints of a Mars-like condition (i.e., time delays) and conduct research that will investigate the effect of autonomy on team outcomes in isolated, constrained, and extreme environments.

In addition, the extent to which bounded autonomy poses a risk within the Behavioral Health & Performance Research Element needs to be quantified. In order to adequately quantify and reduce risk associated with behavioral health and performance-related issues for long duration missions, it is essential to determine what impact increased autonomy for future crews will have on completing mission objectives and achieving mission success. Currently, Team Gap6 addresses issues related to autonomy, however, future research that is needed in order to sufficiently close this gap has yet to be determined.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: 0

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2010 
Task Progress: New project for FY2010.

[Ed. note: added to Task Book in February 2011 when received information]

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: )  Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2010