SCALE: Shared Cognitive Architectures for Long-term Exploration

Project: Research project

Project Details


Among the remarkable team challenges NASA faces in long distance space exploration (LDSE) missions is the need to maintain
team shared mental models (SMMs). Maintaining team SMMs requires the ability to detect shifts in cognition that will likely occur
during the mission that could lead to ineffective crew functioning and performance. Maintaining team SMMs also requires validated
countermeasures for bringing team members' cognitive understanding back into alignment. Leaving low Earth orbit is extreme
teamwork - team SMMs need to be maintained within teams operating close up (the crew), and between teams operating at an
unprecedented distance (i.e., the crew & ground; 33 million miles in the case of a Mars Mission). A multidisciplinary research team
will leverage expertise in Psychology, Industrial Engineering, & Anthropology to understand the emergence and outcomes of critical
shifts in team cognition over LDSE missions. What are the triggering events of SMM divergence, how can we detect them, and
which countermeasures most effectively bring them back into alignment? This project leverages a novel conceptual framework of
shared cognitive architecture (SCA) to understand the patterns of SMMs that dynamically link members of teams, and teams to
other teams, as they go beyond low Earth orbit. We use semantic analysis to identify cognitive shifts, and relational event network
analysis to understand the antecedents and consequences of these shifts. We use these alongside an agent-based model fit on LDSE
analogue data, so that we can explore an exhaustive set of potential triggering conditions that must be unpacked to conduct efficient
ground analogue research. We then conduct this research in HERA, Moonwalk, and Antarctica. The project culminates in the
evaluation of a dashboard fed with the results of computational modeling, human validation, and lexical markers to detect and suggest
countermeasures to maintain SMMs through time and space.
Effective start/end date11/9/176/30/21


  • NASA Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (80NSSC18K0221-P00008)


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