Mars Analog Station Cognitive Testing (MASCOT): Results of First Field Season 2004-01-2586
Understanding the factors influencing crew performance under conditions of long-term isolation, confinement, high workload and elevated risk is an important prerequisite to the manned space exploration missions beyond low-Earth orbit that are planned under the new National Space Policy of the United States. Quantitatively tracking the performance of crews affected by those stressors is therefore crucial both during actual space missions and as part of precursor activities on the ground, such as those taking place at planetary-analog simulation facilities.
During the summer of 2003, an experiment was carried out tracking the cognitive performance of the crew on board such a facility, the Mars Society’s “Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station” in the Canadian High Arctic. In addition to the self-administered computer-based testing, the crew’s daily activities were logged to enable the identification of external factors that might affect the observed performance. The results provide insight into the variation of crewmembers’ cognitive performance over time in the presence of a variety of stressors caused by the environment, their ambitious exploration program, station systems operation, and group interaction.