Thesis Defense by Travis Nelson on March 23rd
Space Studies master’s student, Travis Nelson, will defend his thesis as follows. All Space Studies students, faculty and staff are encouraged to attend. Please show your support!
When: Monday, March 23rd at 8:30am (Central time)
Where: Ryan Hall, Room 111
Title: 30 Day Lunar/Martian Planetary Habitation Analog: An Assessment of Crew Stress, Anxiety, and Performance
About the topic: Space analog exploration simulations on Earth provide researchers a controlled means to train, rehearse, and prepare astronauts for various space mission operations. Historically there have been significant instances of impaired astronaut performance in space and analog ground operations due to stress, fatigue or anxiety due to workload demands, adapting to extreme environmental changes, isolation and confinement in small habitable volumes for extended periods of time. This research aimed at assessing stress, anxiety and fatigue/performance levels of analog crew participants (N=3) during a thirty day duration Lunar/Martian analog habitation mission during the fall of 2014. Crew members were assessed by completing nightly questionnaires measuring subjectively perceived positive events, negative events and emotions experienced that day. For the entire mission duration, the crew members also wore biometric/sleep pattern monitoring watches, of which were found to relate positively with related responses on the questionnaire. Comparison of the subjective questionnaire data vs. the objective sleep/biometric data assisted in increased validity of the questionnaire by noticeable positive correlations of stressors relative to biometric performance levels over the course of the mission.
Results were found to be in support of the initial hypothesis concluding that the environmental conditions did result in heightened stress, anxiety, less consistent sleep patterns, fatigue, and lowered operational performance levels during primarily the 3rd quarter timeframe of the mission (days 17-24). Other research questions answered by the study indicated that acclimation to the unique analog environment resulted in heightened negative affect levels and exertion levels directly after the first quarter of the mission. This research was the first to address psychological crew assessment for UND space analog research and gained valuable data collection that could benefit new focuses of crew training, selection methodology, and maintaining in-flight performance for the well-being of astronauts and space analog participants. Overall this research was aimed to address future psychosocial habitation considerations of manned long duration spaceflight (>6 months).
About the presenter: Travis Nelson is a second year graduate student at the University of North Dakota, pursuing his M.S in space studies (May 2015), with a human factors emphasis in psychology and physiology of human spaceflight. He was awarded the 2013-14 graduate student of the year award and remains active in the space studies department. He has a B.S. Psychology (2012) from UND with an experimental human research emphasis and was a member of the senior undergrad honors program. Travis has worked for the department as a research assistant, working with spacesuit fabrication/assembly and providing support, study design and maintaining systems for the lunar/Martian analog habitat. He participated as mission commander in the inaugural 10-day LMAH I mission which aimed at testing the systems and feasibility of human habitation. Travis continues to be involved with relevant human factors of space research, stem education and community outreach. His future aspirations include applying to the NASA astronaut corps and furthering the development of sustained human spaceflight for long durations.
******Those unable to attend in person may view the live webcast******
1) A live webcast which includes PowerPoint slides will be available here. Please note: this option is currently not operational on portable devices/tablets.
2) A simple live webcast is also available here.
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