Team performance factors the focus of new Mars simulation

February 27, 2014  |   |  1 Comment
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A crew member from the 2013 HI-SEAS mission at the remote habitat site (photo by Sian Proctor)

A crew member from the 2013 HI-SEAS mission at the remote habitat site (photo by Sian Proctor)

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa has announced the crew for the second mission of the Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) program. The next extended simulation of Mars exploration here on Earth begins March 28.

“The upcoming mission is focused on the social, interpersonal, and cognitive factors that affect team performance over time,” said Kim Binsted, associate professor at UH Mānoa and principal investigator for the next three HI-SEAS missions planned for 2014 and 2015. “Hawaiʻi provides a unique setting to simulate the challenging conditions for human exploration to Mars. We have selected a strong crew for our next four-month study.”

HI-SEAS crew members were required to have “astronaut-like characteristics,” including the ability to pass a class 2 flight physical examination and undergraduate training as a scientist or engineer. The youngest crew member is 26; the oldest is 60 years old. Like the astronaut mission specialists they represent, each participant is expected to bring a significant research project or other scholarly work of his or her own to complete while inside the space analog habitat.

The six crew members and the reserve (alternate) member are:

  • Ross Lockwood–A PhD candidate in condensed matter physics at the University of Alberta. Lockwood is from Winfield, British Columbia, Canada.
  • Casey Stedman–An officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Born in Vermont, Stedman now considers Washington his home.
  • Ronald Williams–Director of the Neuropsychology department at Fort Wayne Neurological Center, Indiana. Williams holds a PhD in neuropsychology and is from Bloomington, Indiana.
  • Tiffany Swarmer–Research assistant studying human factors and performance for long-duration space missions at the University of North Dakota’s Human Spaceflight Laboratory. Swarmer was born at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
  • Lucie Poulet–A PhD candidate at the Institute of Space Systems at the German Aerospace Center. Poulet designs hybrid lighting systems for greenhouses to enhance plant growth and is from the Lorraine region of France.
  • Anne Caraccio–A NASA researcher developing a method of turning waste from space missions into useable gases for fuel/propulsion, environmental control and life support systems. Caraccio is from Bellmore, New York.
  • (Reserve crew member) James Sakai–A mechanical engineer and captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, is from Rupert, Idaho.

During the upcoming study, researchers from outside of the HI-SEAS habitat will monitor the six crew members isolated inside the solar-powered dome at a remote site at 8,000 feet elevation on the slopes of Mauna Loa. The researchers will evaluate the crew’s communications strategies, crew workload and job-sharing, and conflict resolution/conflict management approaches to determine the most important factors for the success of a long-duration space mission.

This mission follows on the heels of a successful 2013 Mars food study, which simulated the experience of astronauts on a real planetary mission and compared two types of food systems: crew-cooked vs. pre-prepared.

A UH Mānoa news release

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  1. The exit report that (she) liked feeling the sun on her face, begs the question whether they are too cooped-up and windowless in the habitat: Mars gets sunlight too, roughly equivalent to Nome Alaska…maybe they should be using a transparent dome. (One can imagine Nome is nicer too under a transparent dome.)

    But crew selection is a puzzle this time: What is the crew doing? Last time was a food study and I wouldn’t sample their recipes after I read the ingredients lists…What are they doing this time…?

    For “Red Risk”-testing they should set up habitat in a garbage dump or junkyard-landfill and catalog everything they can find… That’s Mars, closeup.

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