The major accomplishment for FY2012 was successful testing of the iPad-based Space Habitability Observation Reporting Tool (iSHORT) during NEEMO 16. iSHORT is an application that allows users to use text, photographs, video, and audio recordings to document positive or negative observations about their environment near real-time. Reports are immediately e-mailed to the test director and saved locally on the iPad. Testing began during NEEMO 15 but was cut short when inclement weather caused an early termination of the mission. In the interim months, updates to iSHORT were made and test plans were modified based on lessons learned. During NEEMO 16, four crewmembers used iSHORT daily throughout the 12-day mission, reporting observations ranging from glitches in scheduling software and communications difficulties to concerns about bathroom operations. In addition to providing a database of observations to analyze, there was an opportunity to elicit subjective feedback from the crewmembers. Crewmembers documented their impressions of iSHORT using end-of-mission electronic questionnaires, during post-mission one-on-one debriefs, and in some cases elected to use iSHORT itself to document their praises and criticisms during the mission. Overall, iSHORT was highly accepted, and the resulting observations were considered to demonstrate high potential for the tool in an operational setting. The success of iSHORT during the mission led to a plan to assess the feasibility of transitioning iSHORT to operations for International Space Station.
In addition to iSHORT, NEEMO 16 crewmembers also provided video clips targeting human factors and habitability issues using a head-worn camera and a standard iPad camera, which enabled the assessment of these strategies for future use. These methods will require further development prior to implementation in an operational environment, but the lessons learned will feed into this process and may also shed light on alternate approaches to collecting this type of data.
Another major accomplishment for FY2012 was the role this DRP played in hosting the 2012 Habitable Volume Workshop. In July 2012, the Human Research Program (HRP) hosted a Habitable Volume Workshop focused on assessing habitable volume of space vehicles and habitats for long-duration missions. Held in Houston, Texas, the 2012 workshop was well-attended by participants from both NASA and outside industry experts. NASA participants included Space Human Factors Engineering (SHFE) representatives, Behavioral Performance and Health (BHP) representatives, human factors handbook and standards experts, International Space Station Internal Vehicle Configuration Working Group (ISS IVC WG) team members, Flight Crew Integration (FCI) team members, Habitability Design Center (HDC) team members, Advanced Engineering Systems (AES) team members, and the Astronaut Office. Participants from outside industries and academia included representatives from oil and gas, submersibles, maritime shipping, mining, United States Navy, Lamar University, Thomas Jefferson University, and University of Pennsylvania. Together they brought a wealth of experience and differing perspectives on aspects relevant to the design of confined habitats.
In addition to these activities, DRP team members mentored a group of undergraduate students from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne as part of the Systems Engineering Educational Discovery (SEED) Program. This program, run by NASA’s Microgravity University Program, allows NASA researchers to identify projects of interest to be paired with student research teams. These projects are intended to be small enough in scope for undergraduate students to complete with a few hours of work per week throughout a semester. The student team designed an experiment to evaluate pieces of hardware used to mount an iPad either on the user’s arm or the user’s torso. Students selected off-the-shelf software as well as developed custom software to provide tests of user performance. This allowed them to compare performance in microgravity to performance in 1-g as well as comparing performance across hardware mounts. In addition to providing an opportunity for students to benefit from the experience of designing and implementing an experiment aboard a parabolic flight aircraft, this project provided NASA the opportunity to gain insight into tablet use in microgravity.