BPS DOP 2012 – Research update: Sociomapping in Mars 500 

Pauline Willis is presenting a research update on Sociomapping in Mars500 at the 2012 BPS DOP Annual conference at 13:30 on the 11th January.

Experiment MARS-500 is a high profile research project which involved a simulated 520 day space flight to and from Mars. The simulated flight concluded in November 2011 when the crew finally emerged from the ground based modules in Moscow to a warm media welcome broadcast live across the globe. As the longest human isolation experiment ever conducted, this project is a key milestone towards the ultimate goal of a manned flight to Mars. Research teams are now turning their attention to data analysis and preparations for the publication of key research results.

One of the research teams was monitoring the team dynamics of the crew using an innovative data collection and modelling methodology called Sociomapping. The research design for Sociomapping analysis of the crew along with preliminary findings from a 110 day pilot project were presented previously as a development paper at the DOP Annual conference in 2010 just a couple of months before the crew commenced their mission. During the entire 520 day space flight crew communication and cooperation was subsequently monitored using short questionnaires which focused on key indicators of these team processes. A new portable system developed for the Mars500 project enabled both the capture of responses and analysis of results to be conducted easily and unobtrusively as team members worked together. The real time analysis of team data was then made available to a team of psychologists at ‘mission’ control and used as a team debriefing process for the crew. The project update being presented on video in this session by Dr Radvan Bahbouh who is the ‘creator/inventor’ of the Sociomapping methodology offers an overview of what actually happened during the simulated flight to Mars along with a preview of some of the key research findings associated with the use of Sociomapping as a methodology for team debriefing.