Category Archives: Uncategorized

HERA 14 Began on Saturday, Aug. 5

Posted on by .

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

Posted on by .

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 Simulated Space Mission!

Posted on by .

 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.

Volunteer for a Space Simulation!

Posted on by .

 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.

HERA Campaign 4 Lifts off with 13th Crew

Posted on by .

Date: 05-05-17
Location: Bldg 220, HERA
Subject: HERA 13 Crew Photo
Photographer: James Blair

The fourth HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) Campaign (C4) began on May 6 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. C4, one of several research analogs used by NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) to prepare astronauts for deep space missions, will consist of four 45-day missions that simulate a real space exploration without actually leaving Earth. An analog is a situation on Earth that mimics physical and mental effects on the body experienced in space. The crewmembers are Timothy Evans, Andrew Mark Settles, James Titus, and John Kennard. This is an all-male crew – by chance, not by design.

HRP will require the crew to conduct the same experiments on all four C4 missions which will enable researchers to identify patterns and variances in the research data. Experiments will include testing hardware prototypes, creating equipment with a 3-D printer, testing out a new concept for space food, flying a simulated exploration vehicle and a virtual extravehicular activity (EVA) on an asteroid.

While the HERA crew conducts their tasks inside the analog, the HERA analog team and researchers will monitor them from the outside. They will collect crew data on the physiological and psychological effects of extended isolation and confinement, team dynamics and conflict resolution.

HRP’s Flight Analogs Project Manager, Lisa Spence said, “NASA’s astronaut selection process has had great success. We try to identify people for HERA missions who fit a similar profile as astronauts. We also make our analog campaigns emulate real space missions as much as possible, which includes 16-hour crew work days, six days a week, with a real-life timeline of scheduled activities from the HERA Mission Control Center.”

Campaign 4, Mission 1 (C4M1) marks the start of HERA’s 45-day missions. Campaign 1, in 2014, were seven-day missions; Campaign 2, in 2015, were 14-day missions; Campaign 3, in 2016, were 30-day missions. Longer mission length allows for more research studies and more data points relevant to longer duration spaceflight missions.

The other three Campaign 4 missions are scheduled as follows: Mission 2 is Aug. 5 – Sept. 18, Mission 3 is Oct. 21 – Dec. 4, and Mission 4 is Feb. 3 – Mar. 19, 2018.

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.

For more information on NASA’s Human Research Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/hrp.

Monica Edwards
Laurie Abadie
NASA Human Research Engagement & Communications

Analog to Focus on Optic Health in Astronauts

Posted on by .

Optic health in astronauts is the focus of NASA’s upcoming campaign at :envihab at the DLR (Germany’s space agency) in Cologne, Germany. Twelve volunteers will spend 30 days in bed with a head-down tilt of negative six-degrees and will live in a five percent carbon dioxide atmosphere. This will mimic microgravity giving researchers a way to study the effects of pressure on astronauts’ eyes and optic nerve in space.

NASA has been concerned with astronaut’s vision since many (but not all) have returned from six-month stays in the International Space Station complaining of vision impairment that seems to be permanent.

For photographs and more information about :envihab, go to:

www.nasa.gov/analogs/envihab

8 Amazing Places You Can Visit ‘Mars’ on Earth

Posted on by .
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/

 

Antarctica Provides ICE to Study Behavior Effects in Astronauts

Posted on by .

 

Christina Koch in AntarcticaNASA Astronaut Christina Koch takes a frozen selfie at the South Pole on the continent of Antarctica.Credits: Christina Koch

A trip to the Red Planet begins long in advance of liftoff. NASA’s journey to Mars includes preparing astronauts to cope with several months of isolation, confinement, and in an extreme environment (identified with the acronym ICE). One of the best ways to study this on Earth is by observing others who also spend several months on actual ice in Antarctica.

NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), which manages the U.S. Antarctic Program, have a new collaborative agreement to study the effects of living in the polar environment.

In an initial research collaboration, a study developed and led by Dr. Candice Alfano, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Houston, will analyze people who work in Antarctica for long periods of time.

It’s relatively simple to place subjects in isolation or confinement for the purpose of studying mood and behavior, but the extreme environment element is harder to find.

Sometimes called “White Mars,” Antarctica is perfect because “you can’t walk off the ice. That goes for whether you’re having a health, behavioral health or a personal issue, you’re not going anywhere,” said Lisa Spence, project manager for NASA flight analogs in the Human Research Program. “That is very similar to spaceflight. It changes your mindset about how you are going to respond when you know you can’t leave.”

Training camp set up on the foot hills of Mt. Erebus near McMurdo Station in the Antarctic.

Training camp set up on the foot hills of Mt. Erebus near McMurdo Station in the Antarctic.Credits: NASA

Just how extreme is the extreme environment of Antarctica at the South Pole? Not only is 98 percent of the continent covered in ice, but it also has extreme winds and an average temperature range of minus 49 to 26 degrees, making it the coldest place on Earth. At the South Pole, the sun disappears for months at a time. Known as “The Polar Night,” the sun goes behind the horizon in late April and is not seen again until mid-September.

Once the sun is down, you could be stuck there. It is unsafe for airplanes or ships to travel to most parts of Antarctica during the winter because of the extremely cold temperatures and sea ice.

NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch has spent many seasons at various Antarctic and Arctic stations helping scientists conduct research remotely, including a year at the South Pole. “[This] means going months without seeing the sun, with the same crew, and without shipments of mail or fresh food,” she said. “The isolation, absence of family and friends, and lack of new sensory inputs are all conditions that you must find a strategy to thrive within.”

While certainly a difficult situation, Koch found ways to cope. She exercised, found hobbies, socialized with others in the station, and saved care packages to open at later times. She also said, “The most helpful strategy I developed was to avoid thinking about all the things I was missing out on and instead focused on the unique things in the moment that I would never get to experience again.”

These factors combine to create an atmosphere suitable for the NASA, NSF and UH study. The study, scheduled to begin in February 2017, will include approximately 110 U.S. Antarctic program volunteers located at the McMurdo and South Pole stations.

Map showing the locations of McMurdo and South Pole Stations on the continent of Antarctica.
Map showing the locations of McMurdo and South Pole Stations on the continent of Antarctica.

“McMurdo is a coastal station with a population of around 250 people during the winter, or the Northern Hemisphere’s summer. Evacuation, though difficult, is possible. In contrast, the South Pole is far inland near the center of the continent and can have temperatures of -100°F. Evacuation is simply not possible in winter,” Dr. Alfano said.

By studying volunteers from both stations, researchers hope to more precisely understand the greatest sources of stress. Volunteers will complete periodic computer-based questionnaires, provide saliva samples, and wear a monitor that records sleep and wake cycles. Researchers will use these collective tools to look for signs of stress and changes in psychological health of the volunteers during their time in Antarctica.

The plan is to refine and finalize a checklist to be used to “provide an efficient means of monitoring signs and symptoms that a behavioral condition may be developing. Therefore, allowing early detection and early intervention,” Lauren Leveton, Ph.D., of NASA’s Behavioral Performance team said.

This checklist will be useful to NASA in relation to future space travel, but Alfano points out it will have other applications as well, such as among deployed military personnel.

Simultaneously to Alfano’s study, the NASA and NSF partnership will deploy NASA clinical staff to Antarctica, which will give NASA’s medical personnel (flight surgeons) a unique chance to treat individuals in the extreme environment. Participating flight surgeons will be on rotation during summer or winter-over stays.

At the Johnson Space Center, NASA flight surgeons are on call around the clock for remote consultations with astronauts who are on International Space Station missions. Allowing these doctors to work in the Antarctic environment will give them additional training to call upon when consulting with the astronauts during future long duration, deep space missions, including the journey to Mars.

“The first-hand experience of living and working at McMurdo and the South Pole will be invaluable for the flight surgeons’ grasp of what astronauts encounter during long duration spaceflight,” Dr. Terrance Taddeo, Johnson Space Center Chief Medical Officer, said.

“This is a win-win,” Spence said. “Not only are NASA’s flight surgeons gaining a better understanding of the ICE environment of the astronauts they work with, but NSF’s Antarctic clinics will have additional onsite medical expertise.”

Alfano’s project, formally called “Characterizations of Psychological Risk, Overlap with Physical Health, and Associated Performance in Isolated, Confined, and Extreme (ICE) Environments,” will conclude following data collection during the 2017 winter season.

As NASA prepares for future human missions to Mars, keeping the astronauts safe on the journey is a top priority. The southernmost continent on Earth will provide researchers with the perfect analog for studying the behavioral health effects of an extreme environment.

Monica Edwards
Charles Lloyd
NASA Human Research Engagement and Communications

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/antarctica-provides-ice-to-study-behavior-effects-in-astronauts

 

See ya in 30-days: HERA XII Mission begins

Posted on by .

WJS_1966

It is a jovial evening with family, friends, children, laughter, and of course…cake! The pizza sized countdown clock looms large in the background. In moments, four crew members will voluntarily lock themselves away in a modest two-floored habitat for 30-days, all in the name of advancing the science of space exploration.

The four of them are easy to spot amongst the 50 people in Building 220 at JSC who are there to watch the ingress. They are wearing black flight suits with name and mission patches. I find Todd Huhn, introduce myself, and ask him how he is feeling about the mission. “I’m excited and ready. The time away isn’t as concerning to me as completing all of the assignments scheduled for us. There are a lot of research investigations during this mission,” he said.

We continue our conversation when his wife walks by with a three-year-old in her arms. “I’m going to find a corner,” she tells him. He nods and explains to me that its time-out time for the little one. Then he points out to me his two other daughters who are running around with other children they met, all of whom are exploring this unusual place in which they find themselves.

I wish him safe travels and quickly find Mark Kerr, the other male of the two male/two female crew. Mark tells me he really likes the HERA website our Human Research Engagement and Communications team created, and explained how he used it to explain to his daughter’s class what he will be doing for the next month.

With twenty minutes left on the countdown clock we are summoned to the cake room for some last words of wisdom. Kraig Keith, Flight Analogs Deputy, declares the crew fully trained and qualified for the mission at hand. Flight Commander Ulyana Horodyskyj cuts the cake which depicts the Mission XII patch.

With less than five minutes to go, the crowd gathers near the habitat and makes a human pathway reminiscent of the parent tunnels formed at the end of soccer games. That’s when I notice one of the crew is missing. I scan the room to find Todd leading his wife and three daughters over to the side of the habitat. He squats to their eye-level and speaks to each one before giving them a hug and a kiss. Then he held his wife. The journalist in me was inclined to snap a photo. The human in me won out and decided to leave their private moment private.

Todd joins his fellow crewmembers and as the clock races down to 0:00, they jog through our makeshift tunnel and stop at the door to the vessel. With a traditional ringing of the bell, the HERA vessel is officially turned over to the crew by Patrice Yarbrough, HERA Principal Investigator, for their mission. She rings the bell three times for Campaign 3 and then another four times for Mission 4. Ulyana, Todd, Jonna, and Mark step inside the habitat. They wave one last time and the door is close.

There is an instant drop in the atmosphere of the room once the door closes. A sound absorbing padding is placed over the door and Building 220 seems silent and empty. “See yain 30 days,” I thought to myself.

Deep Sea for Deep Space: NASA Astronauts Train For Future Missions

Posted on by .
Pictured at the end of Mission Day 1 are the NEEMO 21 aquanauts, clockwise from top: Matthias Maurer (ESA), Marc O Griofa (Teloregen/VEGA/AirDocs), NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Dawn Kernagis (Institute for Human & Machine Cognition), and Noel Du Toit (Naval Postgraduate School). Inside the Aquarius habitat are Florida International University Habitat Technicians Hank Stark (left) and Sean Moore (right).

Pictured at the end of Mission Day 1 are the NEEMO 21 aquanauts, clockwise from top: Matthias Maurer (ESA), Marc O Griofa (Teloregen/VEGA/AirDocs), NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, Dawn Kernagis (Institute for Human & Machine Cognition), and Noel Du Toit (Naval Postgraduate School). Inside the Aquarius habitat are Florida International University Habitat Technicians Hank Stark (left) and Sean Moore (right).What do the bottom of a blue ocean and the surface of a Red Planet have in common? Both are extreme environments.

 

A group of astronauts, engineers and scientists ventured to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on July 21 to prepare for future deep space missions and the journey to Mars. Isolation at the bottom of the ocean simulates life and work for astronauts in microgravity, making the 16-day mission an analog for future space exploration. They will test tools and techniques for future spaceflight and will conduct simulated spacewalks outside of their undersea habitat, Aquarius.

Inside Aquarius, the international crew will conduct a variety of research and operations studies, such as testing a mini DNA sequencer that NASA astronaut Kate Rubins also will be testing aboard the International Space Station, and a telemedicine device that will be used for future space applications. During their simulated spacewalks, the crew will collect samples for marine biology and geology studies, test software for managing operations, and participate in a coral restoration project. Throughout many of these tasks, the mission will also test communications delays similar to those that would be encountered on a mission to Mars.

“NEEMO 21 astronauts and crew will pioneer complex tasks on the seafloor utilizing the most advanced underwater navigation and science tools which are methodically choreographed to mimic a Mars exploration traverse,” NEEMO Project Lead Bill Todd said. “Equipment can fail, communication can be challenging and tasks can take longer than expected. Other tasks go just as planned. All cases are equally beneficial. It’s how we learn and how we are able to assemble all of this together so that someday we’re prepared for the unexpected when we are living on and traversing the Martian surface.”

NASA Astronaut Reid Wiseman will command the first eight days of the NEEMO 21 mission. Wiseman flew in space as part of Expedition 40/41 in 2014, spending 166 days living and working aboard the International Space Station. Wiseman was a naval aviator and test pilot prior to joining NASA in 2009.

NASA Astronaut Megan McArthur will command the second half of NEEMO 21, and will live in the habitat for the entire 16-day mission. McArthur flew on the STS-125 shuttle mission in 2009, and has served as a Mission Control spacecraft communicator for both space shuttle and space station missions. Prior to joining NASA, McArthur obtained a doctorate in oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Joining McArthur for the entire 16 days is ESA (European Space Agency) Astronaut Matthias Maurer. For the first eight days, Marc O’Griofa, chief medical and technology officer for Noninvasive Medical Technologies Inc., also will join Wiseman, McArthur and Mauerer. For the second half of the mission, McArthur and Mauerer will be joined by Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition Research Scientist Dawn Kernagis and Naval Postgraduate School Researcher Noel Du Toit.

The NEEMO crew and two professional habitat technicians will live 60 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base undersea research habitat 6.2 miles off the coast of Key Largo, Florida. NEEMO 21 is supported by the Human Health and Performance Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center with funding from ESA and partnerships with the Naval Postgraduate School, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Vega Telehealth, TeloRegen, and Johns Hopkins.

For more information about NEEMO, the crews and links to follow the mission on Facebook and Twitter, visit: www.nasa.gov/neemo.

For more information on other analog missions NASA is conducting, go to www.nasa.gov/analog

Image Credit: NASA/Karl Shreeves

Page 1 of 1712345...10...Last »