Behavioral Issues Associated with isolation and Confinement: Review and Analysis of Astronaut Journals (Journals) - 07.05.17

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
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: Thanks for helping us prepare for the future. Twenty astronauts kept personal journals while aboard the space station from 2003 to 2016, writing the equivalent of two 1,100-page books documenting ten person-years in space. Researchers analyzed these journals to identify issues and factors that contributed to the astronauts’ successful adaptation to the challenges of life in space. The study results are contributing to improvement of schedules, procedures, and other factors onboard the space station to support crew member adjustment and ongoing performance and to guide design of equipment and procedures for future long-duration space expeditions.

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)
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Human Research Program (NASA Research-HRP)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
October 2003 - April 2009; September 2011 - March 2016

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 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 and Protocols

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. 


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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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Results from the Journals investigation, as described in the NASA/TM-2010-216130 report (Phase 1 from 2003 to 2010 and Phase 2 from 2011 to 2016), provided measurable data from space operations on which to base a rank-ordering of behavioral issues. Personal journals generated by a total of twenty (20) NASA astronauts who lived and worked onboard the International Space Station (ISS) for an average of 174 days were analyzed to obtain information concerning a wide range of behavioral issues. Each journal entry was parsed into statements and the statements were assigned to a primary behavioral category (secondary and tertiary categories also were indicated for many statements). Journal statements also received 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.
The participants included men and women; scientists, engineers, and pilots; and civilian and military personnel. The 10 participating astronauts from Phase 1, members of 2 and 3-person crews, devoted a total of 705 sessions to the Journals Experiment and produced 4,247 parsed statements composed of nearly 285,000 words; the 10 participating astronauts from Phase 2,members of 6-person crews, devoted a total of 551 sessions and produced nearly 4,000 parsed statements composed of 209,000 words — the astronauts' combined journals are equivalent to 2 ,1000-page books and document ten person-years of living and working in space.
The methods used to analyze journal content are based on the assumption that the more an astronaut writes about an issue, the more important is the issue at the time of writing. The first level of analysis identified the relative salience of 24 major cate¬gories of issues with behavioral implications. The top four behavioral categories during Phase 1, Work, Outside Communica¬tions, Adjustment, and Group Inter¬action, received 59% of all primary, secondary, and tertiary category assignments of journal statements. Adding Recreation/Leisure, Equipment, Event, Organiza¬tion/Management, Sleep, and Food to form a list of the top 10 categories accounts for 88% of all cate¬gory assignments. Nine of the top ten Phase 1 categories were in the top ten during Phase 2, with only a slightly different order: Adjustment, Work, Outside Communications, Group Interaction, Equip¬ment, Recreation/Leisure, Food, Event, and Organization/Management; Exercise replaced Sleep during Phase 2. The top four categories accounted for 61% of all statements during Phase 2 and the top ten accounted for 86% of the total. The second-level of analysis identified more than 100 subcat¬egories within the major categories and calculated their relative frequencies and temporal distributions. The third level of analysis focused on the tone of entries as an indicator of specific problems and general morale, using a metric defined as Net Positivity/Negativity (NPN); results of the NPN analysis sup¬port hypo¬theses concerning a third quarter phenomenon, which is expressed as a decline in morale during the third quarters of expeditions, regardless of overall duration.
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. The results show that NASA’s effort regarding interpersonal relationships, teamwork, and psychological support has been effective and recommendations are provided to further improve living and working in space.
 

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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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