Behavioral & Team Cohesion Factors Related to Reduced Habitable Volume,... and Limited Crew Number During a Near Earth Asteroid Mission 2312.pdf

18th IAA Humans in Space Symposium (2011)
Behavioral & Team Cohesion Factors Related to Reduced Habitable Volume, Prolonged Isolation,
and Limited Crew Number During a Near Earth Asteroid Mission
C. Otto
Universities Space Research Association
3600 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX. 77058
Future Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) missions will last well over a year and occur at a remote distance, well
beyond Low Earth Orbit. Presently, there are only four humans who have flown in space continuously for
a year or longer, a significant lack of experience in missions of such duration. Humans have spent millions
of years adapting to the natural environments of Earth. As a species, Homo sapiens have spent over 99
percent of their evolutionary history in the natural world. Research has shown that the intensity and
duration of sensory deprivation, and an existence spent in purely man-made environments increases the risk
of adverse psychiatric consequences and may cause exhaustion.
Future NEA vehicles will require a self-contained pressurized environment for the crew to perform mission
and habitation functions, including: EVA, logistics, science, medical, and crew operations. During the
transit portions the mission, there will be few or no planned EVAs and no casual egress to break the
monotony. The limited volume will curtail the amount of science performed, and the sole activities will be
those of maintenance, resulting in low levels of meaningful or productive work. The windows will provide
little visual stimulation, the only views consisting of alternating bright sunlight and darkness and there will
be no perceived movement of the spacecraft.
Four main groups of problems likely to be encountered due to confinement stress are: intellectual
impairment, motivational decline, and impaired mood and morale manifesting as chronic irritability, anger,
and depression. The success of a NEA mission will demand high levels of cognitive, behavioral and team
performance from each crewmember. The habitat environment should be large enough to facilitate
psychosocial adaptation amongst an isolated, three person crew, while providing each individual with
private quarters to facilitate optimal sleep and promote behavioral health and team cohesion.