Behavioral Issues Associated with isolation and Confinement: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals (Journals) - 07.15.14

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Behavioral Issues Associated with Isolation and Confinement: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals (Journals) obtains information on behavioral and human issues that are relevant to the design of equipment and procedures and sustained human performance during extended-duration missions. Study results provide information to help prepare for future missions to low-Earth orbit and beyond.
 

Science Results for Everyone

Dear Diary: You are helping us to prepare for future missions. Researchers evaluate the personal journals, totalling nearly 285,000 words—essentially a 1,100-page book of data, of ISS crew members for a wide range of emotional and psychological states and create a rank-ordering of behavioral observations. Analysis showed that conditions on the ISS, while far better than tolerable, fell short of what is ideal for optimum long-term psychological health. Researchers recommend continuing the experiment as crew size increases and operations evolve to help design future mission equipment, procedures, and activities to maintain mental well being.



The following content was provided by Jack W. Stuster, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Experiment Details

OpNom Journals

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Jack W. Stuster, Ph.D., CPE, Santa Barbara, CA, United States

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
    Information Pending
    Developer(s)
    Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

    Research Benefits
    Space Exploration

    ISS Expedition Duration
    October 2003 - Ongoing

    Expeditions Assigned
    8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,29/30,31/32,33/34,35/36,37/38,39/40,41/42,43/44,45/46

    Previous ISS Missions

    Journals was performed on ISS during Expeditions 8 through 18. Members of six-person ISS crews will perform the experiment beginning with Expedition 29/30.


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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Isolation, confinement, and the other stressors of spaceflight can affect crew health and morale, which are factors that can influence mission success.


    • This study converts behavioral and human factors information contained in confidential journal entries into quantitative data concerning the importance of the various behavioral issues involved in extended-duration space exploration.


    • Systematically analyzing the content of astronaut journals provides insights that contribute to the design of procedures and equipment to support human performance during space operations and exploration.

    Description

    A previous content analysis of astronaut journals maintained during ISS expeditions provided quantitative data on which to base a rank-ordering of behavioral issues in terms of importance; participants in that study were members of two and three-person ISS crews. This extension of the Journals Flight Experiment uses the same procedures and techniques as before, but focuses on the journals of astronauts who are members of six-person ISS crews. The objective is to identify equipment, habitat, and procedural features that can help humans when adjusting to isolation and confinement while ensuring they remain effective and productive during future long-duration space operations and expeditions.

    While on orbit, crewmembers make journal entries at least three times a week in a personal journal; the journal can be either in written form (electronic, using an ISS laptop, or paper) or an audio recording (using a PowerPoint audio application). In addition to the journal entries, participating crewmembers complete a brief electronic questionnaire at the mid-point of their Expeditions.

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    Applications

    Space Applications

    Studies conducted on Earth show that analyzing the content of journals and diaries is an effective method for identifying the issues that are most important to a person. The method is based on the reasonable assumption that the frequency that an issue or category of issues is mentioned in a journal reflects the importance of that issue or category to the writer. The tone of each entry (positive, negative, or neutral) and phase of the expedition also are variables of interest. Study results will lead to recommendations for the design of equipment, facilities, procedures, and training to help sustain behavioral adjustment and performance during long-duration space expeditions to the ISS, asteroids, the Moon, Mars, and beyond.
     

    Earth Applications

    Results from this study could help to improve the behavioral performance of people living and working under a variety of conditions here on Earth.
     

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    Operations

    Operational Requirements

    While on orbit, crewmembers will make journal entries at least 3 times per week in a personal journal. The journal will be downlinked to the PI each month and one final time at the end of the increment via encrypted transmission. A total of ten crewmembers will participate in the second phase of the Journals investigation; in addition, data will be collected before, during, and after the planned year-long expedition. 

    Operational Protocols

    The journal can either be in written form (electronic, using a laptop, or on paper, using a Green Record Book) or an audio recording (using a PowerPoint audio application). In addition to the journal entries, the crewmembers will also complete a brief questionnaire at the mid-point of their expeditions. The questionnaire only exists in an electronic form.

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    Results/More Information

    Results from the Journals investigation, as described in the NASA/TM-2010-216130 report, provided the first measurable data from space operations on which to base a rank-ordering of behavioral issues. Personal journals generated by ten (10) NASA astronauts who lived and worked on board the International Space Station (ISS) for an average of 188 days were analyzed to obtain information concerning a wide range of behavioral issues. Each journal entry was assigned a code to indicate whether the statement was positive, negative, or neutral in its tone or content and then a metric called Net Positivity/Negativity (NPN) was derived by subtracting the proportion of negative entries from the proportion of positive entries. All but one of the journals spanned a period of at least six months. The participants included men and women; scientists, engineers and pilots; and civilian and military personnel. The 10 participating astronauts devoted a total of 705 sessions to the Journals Experiment and produced 4,247 separate entries composed of nearly 285,000 words—the equivalent of a 1,100-page book. The first level of analysis identified the relative significance of 24 major categories of issues among which the top 10 accounted for 88 percent of all category assignments: Work, Outside Communications, Adjustment, Group Interaction, Recreation/Leisure, Equipment, Events, Organization/Management, Sleep and Food. The second-level of analysis identified subcategories within the major categories and calculated their temporal distributions. The third level of analysis found evidence of a decline in morale (general attitude) and identified key factors that contribute to sustained adjustment and optimal performance during long-duration space expeditions. Responses to questions asked before, during, and after the expeditions suggested that living and working on board the ISS were not as difficult as the astronauts anticipated before starting their six-month tours of duty. Astronauts reported that they benefited personally from writing in their journals, because it helped them maintain perspective on their work and relations with others. It was apparent from the journal entries analyzed that conditions on board the ISS were far better than tolerable, but short of what was necessary to support optimum human performance for sustained periods of routine operations. Crews performed admirably, as expected, and the journals contained many positive statements about living and working in space; however, the tone and content of some entries described problems and conveyed levels of frustration and annoyance. It was also noticed that the crewmembers shared an unusually well-developed sense of self-awareness. The crewmembers participating in this study demonstrated a keen awareness of their capabilities and limitations, a personal quality believed to distinguish them from nearly everyone else. Recommendations include application of study results and continuation of the experiment to obtain additional data as crew size increases and operations evolve.

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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

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    Related Websites
    Anacapa Sciences, Inc.

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    Imagery

    image Crewmembers participating in Journals use laptops aboard the ISS to make entries of their thoughts for the day.
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    NASA Image: ISS010E6816 - Expedition 10 crewmember Leroy Chiao participated in the Journals investigation.

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    image NASA Image: ISS012E14244 - Astronaut William S. McArthur Jr. (right), Expedition 13 commander and NASA space station science officer, and cosmonaut Valery I. Tokarev, flight engineer representing Russia's Federal Space Agency, pose for a holiday photo in the Zvezda Service Module of the International Space Station. McArthur and Tokarev are holding Christmas stockings and wearing Santa Claus hats. A small Christmas tree and Santa Claus figurine sit on the gallery table in the foreground. The primary focus of the Journals investigation is to help the crew cope with isolation during long duration exploration.
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    image NASA Image: ISS013E43120 - Cosmonaut Pavel V. Vinogradov (left), Expedition 13 Commander representing Russia's Federal Space Agency, and astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams, NASA Space Station Science Officer and Flight Engineer, pose for a picture on ISS. The primary focus of the Journals investigation is to help the crew cope with isolation during long duration exploration.
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    image NASA Image: ISS013E66729 - Flight Engineer-2 Thomas Reiter (left), ISS Expedition 13 Commander, Pavel V. Vinogradov (middle) and Flight Engineer-1, Jeffrey N. Williams (right), pose for a picture with EVA suits on ISS. The primary focus of the Journals investigation is to help the crew cope with isolation during long duration exploration.
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    image NASA Image: ISS013E07975 - Crewmembers participating in Journals use laptops aboard the ISS to make entries of their thoughts for the day.
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    image NASA Image: ISS015E10579 - The primary focus of the Journals investigation is to help NASA design equipment and procedures to allow astronauts to best cope with isolation during long-duration exploration.
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    image NASA Image: ISS013E05853 - The primary focus of the Journals investigation is to help NASA design equipment and procedures to allow astronauts to best cope with isolation during long-duration exploration .
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