Human factors research as part of a Mars exploration analogue mission on Devon Island

Kim Binsted, Ryan L. Kobrick, Marc Ó Griofa, Sheryl Bishop, Judith Lapierre

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    17 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Human factors research is a critical element of space exploration as it provides insight into a crew's performance, psychology and interpersonal relationships. Understanding the way humans work in space-exploration analogue environments permits the development and testing of countermeasures for and responses to potential hazardous situations, and can thus help improve mission efficiency and safety. Analogue missions, such as the one described here, have plausible mission constraints and operational scenarios, similar to those that a real Mars crew would experience. Long duration analogue studies, such as those being conducted at the Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS) on Devon Island, Canada, offer an opportunity to study mission operations and human factors in a semi-realistic environment, and contribute to the design of missions to explore the Moon and Mars. The FMARS XI Long Duration Mission (F-XI LDM) was, at four months, the longest designed analogue Mars mission conducted to date, and thus provides a unique insight into human factors issues for long-duration space exploration. Here, we describe the six human factors studies that took place during F-XI LDM, and give a summary of their results, where available. We also present a meta-study, which examined the impact of the human-factors research itself on crew schedule and workload. Based on this experience, we offer some lessons learnt: some aspects (perceived risk and crew motivation, for example) of analogue missions must be realistic for study results to be valid; human factors studies are time-consuming, and should be fully integrated into crew schedules; and crew-ground communication and collaboration under long-term exploration conditions can present serious challenges.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)994-1006
    Number of pages13
    JournalPlanetary and Space Science
    Volume58
    Issue number7-8
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 1 2010

    Keywords

    • Analogue environments
    • Extreme environments
    • Human factors
    • Human space exploration
    • Mars

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science

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