TEN MISSIONS, TWO STUDIES:
CREW COMPOSITION, TIME, AND SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE
IN MARS-ANALOG EXPEDITIONS
Results are reported from a pilot study investigating the effects of crew composition, mission duration, and mission phase on rates of deviance/conflict among Mars-analog expeditions, which was preliminary to a more extended project funded by the National Science Foundation. The standardized rates of deviance constructed during the pilot study displayed distinct patterns across different crew profiles and space and polar settings. Contrary to predictions, heterogeneous crews had lower rates of deviance/conflict than homogenous crews, larger crews had lower rates of deviance/conflict than smaller crews, and rates of deviance/conflict were lower for longer duration missions and expeditions. Space missions had higher rates of deviance/conflict than polar expeditions, and the hypothesized “third-quarter phenomenon” (rates of deviance/conflict will be highest just after mission mid-point), was evident among relatively homogenous space missions.
A secondary analysis over the missions in the pilot sample found compelling information to suggest that several factors which create specific differentials between outside (baseline) groups (e.g., mission controllers, “folks back home”) and groups in extreme environments need to be investigated. These differentials deal with how the passage of time is subjectivized by the crews and how the expeditionary situation is otherwise defined differently from baseline. These differentials may be useful in explaining why no distinct patterns have emerged from prior studies of performance, cognition, physical and mental well-being which correspond with long- and short-duration missions. The definition of the long-duration mission, such as a mission to
Mars, would seem to involve more than the issue of real-time duration.