Human Factors Projects for Mars Analogue Research

Dr Steve Dawson

Canberra Clinical & Forensic Psychology

--- Abstract - Profile ---

Abstract: Mars gravity simulation project - An Australian project is proposed which examines the impact of simulated Martian gravity on a variety of human factors. These include energy expenditure and fatigue, balance and also cognitive issues such as attention and perception. Studies of reduced gravity in laboratories have yielded evidence of increased mechanical workload in walking due to inefficient transfer of potential and kinetic energy. This project seeks to develop and test a system for studying both short and longer-term effects of Martian gravity on humans through testing both in the laboratory and at the MARS-OZ site.

Mars visual environment simulation project - Previous research has found that reduced light intensity can negatively impact mood while certain light frequencies (e.g. red colour) can reduce cortical activation and attention performance in some people. This project seeks to examine the likely effects of the low intensity, red visual environment of Mars on variables such as mood state, wakefulness and attention performance using filtering systems to simulate the Mars visual environment.

Helmet communications study - A helmet mounted eye gaze monitoring system (EMS) is proposed for MSA’s Helmet Systems to track eye movements. One application is to enable eye-guided interaction with a proposed stereoscopic helmet camera system. This can facilitate projection of enhanced visual information to the helmet ‘heads up display’ (HUD) system, a ‘virtual reality’ control interface with semi robotic ground and airborne exploration vehicles as well as communications with other crew. A second application of EMS is non-invasive monitoring of human performance variables such as attention and fatigue.

A related study investigates projection of information to peripheral visual receptors via a HUD for intuitive, ‘pre-attentive’, background processing of system status information, freeing conscious attention for exploration and other duties.

PROFILE: Steve is a Clinical Psychologist with Canberra Clinical & Forensic Psychology and also with the Neuropsychology Department of The Canberra Hospital. After doing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at University of Wollongong Steve has worked in private practice and also over the last 5 years with the Canberra Hospital and NSW Brain Injury Service. His Ph.D. thesis investigated neuropsychological function in attention deficit disorder. He has broad experience in a range of clinical areas including depression, learning disability and relationship issues. Other clinical/ research interests include aviation & aerospace human factors, particularly neuropsychological issues in pilot performance and crew interaction. It is here his skills and experience are applicable to human factors research for human missions to Mars as well as in the evaluation of Mars Society Australia’s Mars analogue research activities. Leisure interests include flying, reading science fiction and keeping super fit with an annual game of tennis.