The MEOW Experiment: Measuring Cognitive Performance of Planetary Analog Base Crewmembers 2003-01-2539
Sustained crew performance under conditions of isolation, confinement and increased risk is a key contributor to the success of manned space exploration missions. Measuring crew performance and identifying the factors affecting it is therefore crucial both during actual space missions and as part of precursor activities on the ground. Planetary analog bases play an important role in this context. These integrated simulation facilities allow the operational, hardware, and human side of all mission-related elements to be combined, and thus permit the capturing of interactions among these elements. The crew on board such a station is exposed to stressors and other conditions similar to those encountered during space missions. Planetary analog bases therefore represent a valuable resource for better understanding the dynamics of crew performance.
This report presents the results of an experiment designed to track the cognitive performance of crewmembers on board the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), a Mars-analog base operated by the Mars Society in the deserts of southern Utah. Cognitive performance data of volunteer MDRS crewmembers was gathered during February and March of 2003, using software originally developed – and currently being used – for evaluating the cognitive performance of astronauts on board the International Space Station. The experiment provides insight into the variation of the test subjects' cognitive performance over time, while they are affected by a variety of stressors caused by simulated exploration mission activities, station systems operation, and group interaction.