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UCF Researcher To Look At Maintaining Team Integrity in Space

A University of Central Florida Psychology professor set to begin work on a pair of Nasa research projects said team cohesion will be paramount to the success of a manned mission to Mars.

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["Point Lake" Outcrop in Gale Crater, Mars- courtesy Nasa]

Eduardo Salas is an internationally recognized expert on team work. He’s looking for ways to determine whether astronauts on long missions are suffering from stress. A Mars trip could potentially last 30-months-putting astronauts at risk of stress and overload. So this fall,  UCF Psychology professor Eduardo Salas will begin developing a software system that can monitor the way astronauts interact with each other to detect signs of trouble. “Hopefully the software will pick up all of the nuances, if you will, of, like you said, pitch, tone, intonation of what is said,” he said.

The idea is to equip the astronauts with a way to self-diagnose and then deal with a breakdown in team cohesion.  Mars mission astronauts could also be working on a "team" that includes an automated system. A second grant awarded to Salas will look at how to measure the interaction between people and the automated systems they rely on to see if things like trust are an issue. Salas said the results of his Mars mission research could be applied to team situations here on earth- like on oil rigs, nuclear power plants and operating rooms.   


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