Our Best Behavior: Optimization of Group Functioning on the Early Mars Missions
Vadim I. Gushin, Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russia
Marilyn Dudley-Rowley, OPS-Alaska, 2662 Montana Road, Fairbanks, Alaska 99709
It is something of an irony that a planet named for the God of War challenges mortal humans to psychosocial behaviors which may far surpass what is seen normally. Mars cannot be explored without a human presence on that planet. There is no robotic substitute for processing complicated information, making hard decisions, and solving non-standard problems. Many phenomena will be unknown and will need the intuition and the multiple perspectives of human cognition to discern them.
With a manned mission, come all the foibles of what it means to be human. Unfortunately, dysfunctional acts and events could jeopardize the autonomous, long-duration missions as Mars exploration requires. Space and other extraterrestrial environments require of people behaviors closer to zero-tolerance for deviance. This unavoidable fact calls for optimization of group functioning.
Understanding optimization calls for comprehending the occurrences and frequencies of deviance in extreme environments among teams living and working there; for baselines of optimal standards of performance still yet to be drawn; and for the diagnosis, prevention, and correction of less-than-optimal behaviors, not only on an individual basis, but especially on a group basis. Several perspectives and methods are discussed. Finally, it is contended, optimizing group functioning for the “first Martians” could lead to a higher order of behaviors conducive to international cooperation on Earth. In the conquest of Mars, we conquer ourselves.