Physical and Cognitive Exploration Simulations: Development of Exploration Tasks and Analog Environment Testing Capabilities



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50th International Conference on Environmental Systems


In preparation for future exploration missions, NASA seeks the ability to acceptably simulate partial gravity operations for use in ground-based research, crew training, and engineering design evaluations. Performing extravehicular activity (EVA) in the partial gravity environments of the moon and Mars will require higher workloads and greater crew autonomy than current International Space Station (ISS) EVAs. Understanding how this increased demand on the crewmember impacts performance or drives changes to EVA system design or operations is necessary for mission success. The Physical and Cognitive Exploration Simulations (PACES) project at the Johnson Space Center (JSC), is a platform for development of EVA simulation capabilities and performance measurement methods to perform those evaluations. PACES aims to define flight-like exploration tasks which simulate the physical and cognitive workload associated with exploration EVA operations. Each task contains specific objectives, performance metrics, and outcomes of performing the actions; these metrics can be used to evaluate a wide range of mission parameters and capabilities, such as timelines, EVA informatics technologies, task procedures, and EVA hardware designs, among others. These modules are then implemented across a wide variety of analog and training environments (e.g., partial gravity simulators, hybrid reality, field work) to consistently evaluate and compare crew performance from a common catalog of activities. By maintaining commonality of task implementation and measurement methods, PACES helps to enable development of tools such as timeline trackers, human health and performance predictive models, and EVA decision support systems which can be deployed consistently in any analog environment. This paper will describe the PACES development methodology and standard measures, tasks that have been developed to simulate lunar EVAs, and summary results from analog environment testing at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) and Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) facility.


Omar Bekdash, KBR
Lawrence Welsh, SGT
Bridget Scheib, SGT
Jocelyn Dunn, KBR
Kyoung Jae Kim, KBR
Andrew Abercromby, NASA
ICES403: Extravehicular Activity: Operations
The 50th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held virtually on 12 July 2021 through 14 July 2021.


Analog Testing, Human Performance, Lunar Surface Exploration, EVA Surface Operations