SIMSKILL (Preparatory study)

As stated by the recent Theseus report1, skill maintenance for tasks that are carried out infrequently and yet are crucial for space mission success or even survival of astronauts has been underestimated so far. However, there is no adequate and validated prediction theory on how these skills degrade over time, not to mention countermeasures for the decrement.

The SIMSKILL experiment approaches the problem by measuring performance in an ecologically valid environment and with a task set embracing its multimodal nature. A spacecraft simulator with an attached data logging and performance evaluation tool shall be placed within the Concordia station. By measuring performance during the overwinter stay and comparing the results against a non-isolated reference group, the degradation rate (“half-life”) of typically required piloting skills will be determined. One half of the overwinter participants will train on a regular basis, giving additional information whether simulator training is a valid countermeasure or not. All participating test subjects will be trained to the task before the first measurement; the piloting task complexity and realism has been balanced against the Concordia research analogue limitations.

The results are expected to provide direct input for ongoing space mission and systems developments, in particular human behaviour and performance, and will emanate into more profane fields.

In collaboration with the IRS and the Department of Psychology, University of Rome "La Sapienza".

1.Tattersall, A.; Johannes, B.; Åkerstedt, T.; Gaia, E.; Gopher, D.; Kluge A.; Manzey, D. et Pattyn, N. (2012). Chapter 3: skill maintenance. In Hockey, B. (coordinator) (2012). Consortium Theseus (Towards Human Exploration of Space: a EUropean Strategy): Theseus report - cluster 2: Psychology and Human Machine Systems (pp.39-53). Strasbourg: Indigo