Culture, Values, and Environmental Adaptation in Space (At Home in Space) - 09.19.18

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ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Culture, Values, and Environmental Adaptation in Space (At Home In Space) assesses culture, values, and psychosocial adaptation of astronauts to a space environment shared by multinational crews on long-duration missions. It is hypothesized that astronauts develop a shared space culture that is an adaptive strategy for handling cultural differences and they deal with the isolated confined environment of the space craft by creating a home in space. At Home In Space uses a questionnaire battery to investigate individual and culturally related differences, family functioning, values, coping with stress, and post-experience growth.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Phyllis J. Johnson, Ph.D, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: At Home in Space

Principal Investigator(s)
Phyllis J. Johnson, Ph.D, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Peter Suedfeld, Ph.D, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Sponsoring Space Agency
Canadian Space Agency (CSA)

Sponsoring Organization
Information Pending

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
September 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - April 2019; -

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Despite the attention paid by space agencies to the development of countermeasures, psychological and psychosocial problems are known to have occurred during space missions. With the length of current International Space Station (ISS) missions set at six months (and with extension to one year for some astronauts), previous information from shorter missions concerning cultural, personal, and environmental adaptation to space may need to be superseded by findings based on the different set of circumstances.
  • Culture, Values, and Environmental Adaptation in Space (At Home In Space) is designed to better understand and enhance the personal, emotional, social, cultural, and environmental adjustments of crews operating in the ISS environment. The study will investigate: how the crew create a shared space culture that transcends cultural differences; the spontaneous innovations of the crew in adjusting to both the physical interior and the usage of the interior space of the ISS to make them feel like home; and the strategies of crew members for coping with their prolonged absence from family and familiar life on Earth. The study will also assess a number of psychological constructs (e.g., values, coping, perceived stress) and how scores on the measures change pre-, during, and post-mission.
  • At Home In Space addresses several aspects for the first time in space research:  1) the extent to which a space culture, shared by the crew but different from their home cultures, develops and how the crew acculturate to that shared space culture; 2) how crews confined for long periods in isolated and confined environments adapt their quarters and workplaces to be homelike plus identification of the importance of various aspects of daily space life (e.g., leisure, celebrations, communication, etc.) in creating a feeling of home in space, and 3) the effect of prolonged absence on the persons emotional ties to family at home and perception of how the family is affected. The study goes beyond the traditional emphasis on problems to include positive psychosocial aspects of their space experience.

This study assesses culture, values, and psychosocial adaptation of astronauts to a space environment shared by multinational crews on long-duration missions. Data will be collected before, during, and after ISS missions. Self-report measures will be computer administered.

Specific goals of the research are:

1) to describe the importance astronauts place on feeling at home in space and how these perceptions about home in space change over the duration of a mission;
2) to identify the unique combination of cultures that develop during space missions (i.e., agency, national, or a common space culture);
3) to characterize the effects of a long-duration mission on the astronauts’ work-family interactions noting how such interactions change pre to post mission;
4) to quantify changes in the astronauts’ hierarchy of important values when baseline scores are compared with those obtained after mission completion;
5) to assess changes in problem solving, coping with stress, self-efficacy, family functioning, and involvement with their partners and children (if applicable) over pre-, during, and post-mission intervals;
6) to recognize post-mission positive and negative psychological changes; and
7) to identify the effect of selected demographic and space career variables on patterns found in Scientific Objectives 1 through 6.

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Space Applications
Potential benefits of this work include a better understanding of the inter- and intrapersonal factors that may affect long space missions, which may ultimately facilitate the development of more effective countermeasures and empowerment strategies for long-duration missions. Other benefits would be the design of effective procedures: to enhance crew feeling at home in space, to promote a shared culture in space that transcends cultural differences and reduces cross-cultural misunderstanding, to identify and enhance the positive aspects and aftereffects of space travel and ameliorate negative ones, and to recognize and cope with changes and possible problems in work-family interactions and consequences.

Earth Applications
There are many communities on Earth that share some of the characteristics of a space capsule, and whose functioning could be improved by our findings. One of these is the situation of the aged, especially those in group housing: planned communities, assisted living centers, or nursing homes. The residents are removed from their families and accustomed social circles, as well as from their former homes with their well-known layout, décor, and memorabilia of their life. Their living space is limited, and so is their privacy, autonomy, and control over their social and physical environment. To the extent that we learn how a confined group can develop a common culture that enhances their bonding and morale, and what the members can do to make their unique environment feel more like home, institutional residences for the elderly may be able to enhance the lives of their clients. The findings will obviously have applications to people living in remote, confined, and isolated environments (e.g., resource extraction camps, oil rigs, long-voyage tankers, cargo ships, and the Arctic and Antarctic), and to those whose employment is dangerous and requires periodic absences from family (e.g., military deployments).

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Operational Requirements and Protocols

Questionnaire administration for USOS 12 astronauts:
  • Preflight: questionnaires are completed between L-160 to L-110 days.
  • Inflight: 2 on-orbit sessions during FD14 to FD21 , and R-23 to R-30 days, no earlier than FD100. Still pictures to be taken any time after first in-flight session, until end of crew's mission.
  • Postflight #1: questionnaires are completed between R+14 to R+28 days.
  • Postflight #2: questionnaires are completed between R+180 to R+200 days.
  • Preflight: Participants should complete the questionnaire package when they are in regular pre-mission training in Houston, are regularly interacting with family members, and are not about to go on or return from holiday, or training in another country.
  • Inflight: Participants should complete the questionnaire package when they are at ease, not after unpleasant experiments or after mission events such as EVAs or special celebrations
  • Postflight: Participants should complete the questionnaire package after their initial adjustment to being on Earth, when they have returned to a more routine work-life situation, and prior to taking holidays.

Crew completes the questionnaire at appointed times (twice inflight).

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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