Lack of gravity causes sensorimotor deficits post-landing. This experiment's comprehensive cognitive/sensorimotor test battery will determine the relative contribution of specific mechanisms (including sleepiness and fatigue) underlying decrements in post-flight operator proficiency. These results will be critical in determining whether sensorimotor countermeasures are required for piloted landings and early surface operations, and what functional areas countermeasures should target.Principal Investigator(s)
Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)Research Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
September 2012 - September 2014Expeditions Assigned
33/34,35/36,37/38,39/40Previous ISS Missions
Long-term exposure to microgravity has the potential to negatively impact the ability of crewmembers to operate complex machinery and perform post-landing EVA. This project directly addresses the 'risk of impaired ability to maintain control of vehicles and other complex systems' identified by NASA's Human Research Program by performing pre- and post-flight assessments of sensorimotor function in ISS astronauts in conjunction with full-motion simulations to gauge the effects of microgravity exposure on operator proficiency.
The PI team developed a full-motion simulator based on a 6 degree-of-freedom Stewart platform. A cylindrical polypropylene water tank (2.2 m diameter; 1.7 m height) forms the cabin, which is attached to the motion platform. Three ceiling mounted projectors provide a 180 degree field-of-view display. Subjects are placed in a racing seat and restrained by a 4-point harness. The control pod includes a steering wheel and joystick, and three pedals (outer pedals used for rudder input during flight; right and middle pedal used for accelerator and brake for driving simulations).
Based on a review of relevant in- and post-flight studies, the PI team developed a battery of tests to be performed on seated ISS crewmembers pre- and post-flight. The test battery targets cognitive, oculomotor, fine motor, and vestibular mechanisms potentially underlying post-flight deficits in operator performance. In addition, subjective and objective measures of sleepiness and fatigue will be obtained to control for the cumulative effects of in-flight sleep deprivation and workload on post-flight sensorimotor and operator function. The results from these test batteries will be correlated with astronaut performance on three operationally-relevant full-motion simulator tasks: control of an automobile, operation of a Mars rover, and (for experienced pilot subjects only) T-38A Talon landing simulations.
The aim is to objectively define the effects of long-duration spaceflight on operator proficiency, and identify microgravity-related sensorimotor or cognitive deficits (or combinations thereof) underlying degradation of operator effectiveness. This study will answer four critical questions:
An understanding of the underlying mechanisms for the decrement in post-flight proficiency will help determine whether countermeasures are required for future exploration class missions, and what functional areas the countermeasures should target.Earth Applications
The experiment calls for 4 preflight and 3 postflight sessions on a total of 8 subjects. Preflight sessions are scheduled in the L-120 days to launch timeframe with no more than 2 sessions scheduled within a 7 day period and at least 48 hrs between tests. It is desired that the final preflight session occur as late as possible prior to departure for launch. Postflight sessions are targeted for R+0/1, R+4, and R+8 days.Operational Protocols