HERA 14 Began on Saturday, Aug. 5

PHOTO DATE: Aug 04, 2017
LOCATION: B220
SUBJECT: Official crew photo for HERA Campaign 4 Mission 2.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel

The second 45-day Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) mission began on Saturday, Aug. 5 in Building 220, with an ingress the evening before. The four-member crew are Richard Addante, Paul Haugen, Shelley Cazares and Reinhold Povilaitis.

This mission will focus on the effects of sleep deprivation and ways to mitigate these effects, along with several other mission objectives. For details please visit the research tile of the HERA website. Check back to this site for crew photos and to follow the mission clock.

HERA 14 will end on Sept. 18 and will be followed by two more missions for this campaign.

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA’s HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber

PHOTO DATE: June 19, 2017. LOCATION: BLDG. 220. SUBJECT: Egress of crew for HERA Campaign 4 Mission 1 crew. PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA’s HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber

After 45 days in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the four-man crew can hardly hold their eyes open. This mission was the first of its kind to last 45 days, as well as incorporate sleep reduction for research purposes.

“The sleep deprivation was really difficult,” said, James Titus, HERA crew member. “It really hindered our normalcy. We are used to working and living our lives at a higher level. During this mission the sleep reduction, the no-nap rule and limited caffeine – went hand in hand to really slow us down,” he said.

HERA is one of several ground-based analogs used by NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) to research ways to help astronauts move from lower-Earth orbit to deep space explorations. A spaceflight analog is a situation on Earth that produces physical and mental effects on the body similar to those experienced in space. Participants are volunteers that must pass a physical and psychological assessment to qualify.

During this thirteenth HERA mission, crew members went through many of the motions of a real deep space mission without ever actually leaving the Johnson Space Center. This was the fourth in a series of studies, called campaigns, with progressively longer simulated mission lengths. In this campaign, this was the first of four 45-day simulated missions. Previous campaigns studied seven-day, 14-day, and 30-day missions. Longer mission lengths allow for more research studies and more data points relevant to longer duration spaceflight missions.

Several research studies utilize a limited sleep protocol for the four missions of Campaign 4. During Mission 1, crewmembers were allowed to sleep five hours per night, five days per week with a recovery period of two days where they could sleep eight hours each night. No naps and limited caffeine are included in this protocol.

This practice allows researchers to test the use of habitat lighting as a method of combating crewmember fatigue. It also allows for the evaluation of the usability of bio-mathematical models to predict crewmember fatigue. Team cohesion, performance, and interpersonal relationships are also tested under these conditions.

Despite the no siesta rule, the crew took their mission tasks seriously. As with past crews, they particularly enjoyed the extravehicular activity (EVA) on an asteroid conducted with virtual reality technology. “It was fun learning to maneuver in three dimensions, and going through the decompression protocol just like a real astronaut would. It was fascinating to me,” said Timothy Evans, HERA crew member.

Not only are the HERA crews isolated from the outside world, they must unplug during their mission. “It was really a little bit disorienting,” said Mark Settles, HERA crew member. “You get in this mode of addressing electronic communications on a daily basis. It was like stepping back 20 years by having a reduced level of constant input of demands on your time from electronic communication.”

This was a rather competitive group. One of their tasks was to use the robotic arm to grab a transport vehicle while dealing with sleep deprivation. They had 12 chances to do so and were given a score on their efforts. “The score was very important to all of us. We’d strive to get better. The ROBoT [Robotic On-Board Trainer] and cognition had a level of inter-competiveness with us,” said John Kennard, HERA crew member.

When asked their favorite thing to do while on the mission, there was a consensus: Sleep. They also enjoyed playing board games and watching movies together while not working on mission tasks. Upon splashdown at the end of the simulated mission, they planned to call their families and grab some greasy, salty fast food. But soon afterward, they all planned on catching some Zs!

Mission 2 of Campaign 4 will begin on Aug. 5. The Test Subject Screening group is accepting curriculum vitaes (CV) for healthy, non-smoking volunteers, ages 30 to 55 for future missions. Volunteers will be compensated and must pass a physical and psychological assessment to qualify. Volunteers wishing to become test subjects should e-mail their CV to jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or call 281-212-1492.

Volunteer for a Space Simulation!

 Types of Analogs

The high-fidelity space simulation HERA is recruiting participants for the two remaining missions of 2017 (Campaign 4). These missions are full-scale simulated mission to an asteroid lasting 45 days (68 days including training and debriefing). Information and requirements are posted below. For more details, or to apply, please:

email: jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or call: (281) 212-1492

 Mission Overview

Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA)
  • Location: Johnson Space Center
  • Environment: Closed Habitat
  • Hazards Tested: Isolation, light and dark cycles, distance from Earth
  • Description: HERA is a unique three-story habitat designed to serve as an analog for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios.
  • Research: Studies suitable for this analog include behavioral health and performance assessments, communication and autonomy studies, human factors evaluations, and medical capabilities assessments.

Mission Requirements

  • Age: 30-55
  • No medications or dietary restrictions
  • BMI of 29 or less
  • 74 inches in height, or less
  • No History of sleepwalking
  • A Masters Degree in a technical field such as science, engineering or mathematics, or the equivalent experience.

8 Amazing Places You Can Visit ‘Mars’ on Earth

PHOTOGRAPH BY V.CROBU, ESA
Astronauts from five space agencies explore caves in Sardinia as part of a training course designed to teach them how to work effectively in multicultural teams when safety is critical.

A handful of faux space missions exist around the world, and scientists are using them to study various aspects of how humans respond to the challenges of traveling and living in deep space environments. In the space investigation world, these places are called “analogs.” An Analog is a situation on Earth that produces effects on the body similar to those experienced in space, both physical and mental/emotional. These studies help prepare us for long duration missions.

This National Geographic article highlights eight such places around the world with rich descriptions of the analog environment and what the research seeks to accomplish to get us one step closer to Mars.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/12/exploring-mars-utah-mock-mission-simulation-space-science/

 

Chronicles from Concordia with Beth Healey – Part 5: Dark Mars (continued)

DSC_4109-CustomFollow Beth Healey, a 28-year-old medical doctor from London, through her 14-months at the Concordia Station ending in January 2016 as a European Space Station researcher. Here is an excerpt from her blog and a link to Part 5: Chronicles from Concordia.

One of the most hostile environments for an analog is Concordia located more than 600 miles from the coastal stations of Antarctica. Many researchers use this facility to study psychology, physiology, and medicine. Some mission crewmembers perform a winter-over where they are part of research lasting the entire winter, which in Antarctica is nine months.

Part 5: Dark Mars (continued)

Looking up towards such a plethora of stars – many of them with planets of their own we know today – I could not help wondering what worlds might be out there, and whether there could be anyone or anything looking back in our direction. It felt strange and exciting to run experiments preparing for humans to stay on moons and planets, with the Milky Way in all its vastness and splendor right above our heads. Would humankind one day even take that real step to the stars and travel beyond our Solar System?

We did not see the sun for 105 days at Concordia during this polar night. Much like me, I am sure everyone was affected, but the crew reacted in different ways and people were affected more at different times. It was difficult to predict how people would feel and behave on different days.

Chronicles from Concordia with Beth Healey, Part 4: Dark Mars

IMG_3378a1280Follow Beth Healey, a 28-year-old medical doctor from London, through her 14-months at the Concordia Station ending in January 2016 as a European Space Station researcher. Here is an excerpt from her blog and a link to Part 4: Chronicles from Concordia.

One of the most hostile environments for an analog is Concordia located more than 600 miles from the coastal stations of Antarctica. Many researchers use this facility to study psychology, physiology, and medicine. Some mission crewmembers perform a winter-over where they are part of research lasting the entire winter, which in Antarctica is nine months.

Part 4: Dark Mars:

My best way of dealing with the suspenseful waiting for winter was to focus on my work. The days quickly got shorter and shorter, the light itself was failing as the sun was slipping away. The scenic beauty of the landscape around the station faded as the season steadily and inexorably turned from intimidating to deadly. More and more I actually wanted winter to start. The sooner it starts, the sooner it finishes. And soon enough we looked out of the window towards that last sliver of sun on the horizon, knowing that this was the last sunset – or sunrise – we would see in four months’ time. Not only winter was here, but night as well.

Without the sun, Concordia really did feel like a different planet. “White Mars” as it is often called, or perhaps one should say “Dark Mars”. In some way the sun had made me feel connected to the outside world. The sun, at least, was the same as back home, and this gave me a sense of familiarity. Losing that made me feel cut off, in a different world. The sun also gives you energy, especially in the morning. Without it I felt like I was working on a continual night shift.

I worried I had become someone different.

Midwinter-crew

Chronicles from Concordia with Beth Healey – Part 3: White Mars

Converted-photos_48Follow Beth Healey, a 28-year-old medical doctor from London, through her 14-months at the Concordia Station ending in January 2016 as a European Space Station researcher. Here is an excerpt from her blog and a link to Part 3: Chronicles from Concordia.

Part 3: White Mars:

At a few points during the summer period I did consider my decision to come there, and if it was indeed the right choice for me. The approaching day of “no return”, when the last plane would leave and I would be facing nine months with just twelve other people, gave me some anxiety. What if I had made the wrong decision? The most frightening aspect was not the lethal cold outside, but the isolation inside and how we would react to it – me included.

Chronicles from Concordia with Beth Healey – Part 2: The Arrival

Epica-Core-LargeFollow Beth Healey, a 28-year-old medical doctor from London, through her 14-months at the Concordia Station ending in January 2016 as a European Space Station researcher. Here is an excerpt from her blog and a link to Part 2: Chronicles from Concordia.

One of the most hostile environments for an analog is Concordia located more than 600 miles from the coastal stations of Antarctica. Many researchers use this facility to study psychology, physiology, and medicine. Some mission crewmembers perform a winter-over where they are part of research lasting the entire winter, which in Antarctica is nine months.

Part 2: The Arrival:

I was lucky enough to be allowed to stay in the cockpit for the landing at the coastal station and watched in awe as we touched down smoothly onto the ice runway. We had arrived at the entrance to this frigid world… As we flew in over the mainland, the full magnificence of the place became obvious. As Scott, the polar explorer long before me, had put it in his journals, Antarctica “satisfies every claim of scenic magnificence.” He was right.

Chronicles from Concordia with Beth Healey – Part 1: The Induction

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One of the most hostile environments for an analog is Concordia located more than 600 miles from the coastal stations of Antarctica. Many researchers use this facility to study psychology, physiology, and medicine. Some mission crewmembers perform a winter-over where they are part of research lasting the entire winter, which in Antarctica is nine months.

Beth Healey, a 28-year-old medical doctor from London, spent 14-months at the Concordia Station ending in January 2016 as a European Space Station researcher. She recently began posting reflections about the experience. Here are a few excerpts from her blog and a link to Part 1: Chronicles from Concordia.

Stepping out of the plane was like stepping out on another planet…There is a reason Concordia is often referred to as “White Mars”. There are no penguins or seals there, no native animals, let alone native people. The bright light of the 24-hour Sun reflected off the snow is blinding. My labored breathing was not out of physical exertion, but caused by the high altitude – as if we had been up on a summit of the Alps. Except for our group, the place was completely still and ghostly silent.

Part 1: The Induction:

I am 28 years old and like what many girls my age do – shopping and getting a good haircut, and I don’t mind a nice spa treatment once in a while. These features are generally not considered well suited to life in a polar environment. However, I do not see why that has to be the case (although admittedly shopping may have to wait, spas will be run on a very individual basis and a decent hairdresser may be the last of your preoccupations at -80C). It is true, I am not built for minus 80 degrees cold, but then, who is really? So why should not I, Beth Healey, go polar for real?

HERA 11 patch inspired by Apollo 11 patch

The 47th anniversary of Apollo 11 takes place during the Human Exploration Mission Analog (HERA) Mission 11. The Apollo 11 mission left the first human footprints on the moon. HERA 11 takes us one small step closer to making footprints on Mars.

This historic event was not lost on the HERA 11 crew. In designing their mission patch, they drew strong parallels with the Apollo 11 mission patch. They used the symbolism of Apollo 11 to reflect the role of the HERA in advancing human exploration while recognizing the contributions of prior programs on our journey to Mars.

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