Gap BMed-104: Given the potentially negative spaceflight associated CNS changes and behavioral experiences of stressors during long-duration missions (e.g., isolation, confinement, reduced sensory stimulation, altered gravity, space radiation), what are validated modifications to habitat/vehicle to mitigate stressors impacting on CNS / cognition / behavioral health?
Last Published:  04/20/22 11:43:20 AM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Factors and Behavioral Performance (HFBP)
Status: Open
Crewmembers will live and work within the confines of a spacecraft, rovers, and surface habitats for extended periods of time.  Past and Current ISS operations of up to 6-month spaceflight missions and available environmental characteristics (e.g., large habitable space, IP Phone, views of Earth) have enabled crewmembers to live in space without major behavioral health incidents. Conversely, future long duration missions (e.g., Mars) , will expose crewmembers to prolonged confinement and extreme environmental monotony of a mission of up to 30 months, five times the length of current ISS increments. These environments will result in increased autonomy and isolation from Earth which will impose a strain upon crews of historical significance. Environmental psychology research has shown that humans have evolved to function best in Earth-like environments. There is significant disparity between Earth and vehicle/habitat environments required for long-duration space exploration. Human Research Program (HRP) research has identified the potential environmental stressors in the long duration spaceflight environment (e.g., isolation, confinement, sensory deprivation) and the risks these stressors pose for psychological and behavioral health. Environmental psychology research, spaceflight analog research and anecdotal spaceflight evidence show that risks posed by environmental stressors can be mitigated by modifying the vehicle environment (e.g., introduction of novel stimuli, greenhouses, virtual reality, etc.).  Thus, these habitat/vehicle environments also offer protection from the hazards of spaceflight and can serve to mitigate the negative psychological and behavioral effects of environmental stressors (e.g., isolation, confinement, reduced sensory stimulation) likely to be experienced during long-duration spaceflight. HRP funded research has sought to identify and validate habitat environmental specifications, countermeasures, and operational regimens for using light to prevent and mitigate health and performance decrements due to sleep, circadian, and neurobehavioral disruption, for flight, surface, and ground crews, during all phases of spaceflight operations. Diet and nutrition offer key modifiable targets for the prevention of psychiatric disorders associated with BMed risk. For example, multiple lines of research indicate that diets rich in phytochemicals (e.g., polyphenols) know for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can mitigate increases in vascular inflammation increases due to aging, stress, GCR exposure, etc.  Growing evidence indicates a relationship between nutrition deficiencies, diet quality and mental health and for the efficacy and use of nutritional supplements to address deficiencies or as augmentation to other therapies. Research results from CBS Nutritional Datamining and CBS biomarker identification tasks have helped identify the biological pathways that mediate the observed relationships between diet, nutrition and behavioral health, to determine how the immune system, oxidative biology, brain plasticity, and the microbiome-gut-brain axis may serve as key targets for nutritional interventions.  In addition, results have helped inform the optimal use of light (timing, duration, intensity, and spectral power distribution) as a countermeasure. Findings from these studies have resulted in recommendations for the ISS vehicle, long-duration analogs, and provided the justification for an evidence-based flexible lighting system that was implemented on ISS starting in 2015. Planned research is ongoing to validate recommended protocols for this lighting system. On-board system monitoring systems (cf., “smart habitats”) may activate countermeasures (e.g., by noting performance changes or other biomarkers) and then help align biological and medical interventions like exercise and conditioning, as well as dietary or nutritional supplements. Biological and medical interventions are distinguished from physical or mission design countermeasures such as shielding, time in solar cycle, or mission duration (e.g. transit times, surface stays) as they are addressed by other Risks.
Approach: There is a need for validated countermeasures to promote individual behavioral health and performance during exploration missions. The countermeasures identified will need to consider anticipated mission constraints, such as individualized protocols for using light, identifying efficient uses of light (e.g., less power, crew time), and how these factors relate to the circadian, sleep, and photobiology communities to better understand what other agencies’ investigations are funding and how the science funded externally can inform NASA efforts.  This gap serves to provide the countermeasures necessary to support crew behavioral health (dependent on information obtained from addressing BMed Gaps 1, 2, 3, and 4). Countermeasures developed will address the pre-, during-, and post-mission phases of exploration missions. Solicitations will build on systematic reviews that help identify available versus needed information, with datamining efforts to help identify threats and promoters baselining for Earth-levels, with current countermeasures and readiness levels of research deliverables (tools and technologies). Leverage previous and ongoing research in areas of HSIA (Habitat, MPTASK, HCI), sleep, and CBS to identify habitat/environmental contributions to cognitive performance, stress-reduction, and manipulations of internal spaceflight systems to decrease risk of adverse cognitive or behavioral conditions (to include Team functioning and social team interactions). Report on critical spaceflight habitat/environmental (e.g., schedules, lighting properties) contributions; research and spaceflight results used to contribute to validation of countermeasures and standards to maintain individual cognitive, behavioral, or Team functioning, psychosocial health, and team task performance in LDSE.  The implementation of countermeasures use changes in biomarkers (e.g., operationally-relevant performance measures) and other biomarker research to identify CNS/cognitive/behavioral performance changes and their magnitude, using near-term research to help set the course for effective countermeasures approaches through establishment of appropriate indexed biomarkers and model systems for use in selection and validation of candidate standard measures for monitoring. We will solicit studies to develop and validate countermeasures to fill this gap. These countermeasures will be validated in high fidelity exploration analogs and ultimately ISS. Periodic tech watches will ensure that the most advanced state-of-the-art technology is in use.
Metrics for Interim Progress:
(1) Gap focused research will identify the environmental stressors on psychological health in long-duration spaceflight and will identify and/or develop methods to assess effects of environmental modifications in the context of long duration habitation.
(2) Research that identifies and validates methods to use habitats to modify the spaceflight environment to mitigate the identified risks to behavioral health.
(3) Conduct laboratory investigations evaluating the effect of varying light sources on sleep, circadian rhythms, and performance.
(4) Develop initial protocols for testing the use of lighting protocols and other countermeasures on ISS (in-house).
(5) Capture ‘lessons learned’ from lighting countermeasures in space and finalize research aboard ISS to validate lighting protocols with ISS flexible lighting system that started in 2015, assessing lighting protocol effects on CNS/cognitive/behavioral performance through biomarkers.
(6) Conduct Habitat, Lighting, and Fatigue measures monitoring and countermeasures Technical Information Meeting to further define needed research & technology development for light in exploration class vehicles/habitats.
(7) Evaluate neurobehavioral effects of habitat and lighting systems in laboratory & analog research to further the use of light as an operationally-relevant behavioral health and performance countermeasure for long-duration exploration missions.
(8) Validation of the acceptability and effectiveness of countermeasure protocols for multiple, intelligent system, habitat activities, for use in both monitoring and providing “performance assist” and/or social support, during long-duration missions.
(9) Finalize predictive models that integrate lighting properties (intensity, duration, timing) to also include spectral power distribution and integrate models into on-board execution/decision-support systems.
(10) Updated and validated information provided to NASA medical operations and habitat designers regarding new evidence and enhanced lighting requirements that can optimize effectiveness and minimize crew resource requirements.
(11) Updated requirements and clinical guidelines, as appropriate, for using light as a countermeasure for sleep loss, circadian misalignment, and performance (and a clinical countermeasure for behavioral health).
Target for Closure
Closure of this gap will enable us to make recommendations for modifying the habitat/vehicle environment to best maintain and promote cognitive and behavioral health among crewmembers. An identified set of validated lighting countermeasure regimens that integrate lighting properties (timing, duration, intensity and spectral power distribution) to provide:     
(1) Individualized operational protocols that optimize countermeasure effectiveness.     
(2) Hardware specifications for future vehicles that enable a flexible lighting system for autonomous, long duration and/or distance exploration missions.

Validated set of psychosocial support countermeasures targeting key indicators of CNS/cognitive/behavioral operationally-relevant performance that maintains individual cognitive and behavioral health and performance. These countermeasures should be targeted to pre-mission preparation, in-flight adaptation and functional readiness, and post-mission transition/rehabilitation.     
(1)  Identified set of psychosocial support countermeasures targeting key indicators to maintain behavioral health and performance.     
(2)  Identification of indexed metrics to monitor therapeutic efficacy for acute, in-mission, and post-mission CNS/cognitive/behavioral operationally-relevant effects due to mission-relevant exposures to spaceflight hazards (e.g., space radiation, isolation, altered gravity).     
(3) Identification and validation of candidate countermeasures modulating adverse outcome pathways associated with integrated risks.     
(4)  Verified and validated countermeasures in ground-based analogs with astronaut-like subjects.
(5)  Identified and validated methods for modifying the habitat/vehicle environment to address environmental stressors and mitigate cognitive and behavioral health risks.     
(6)  Development of guidelines and standards for implementation of these modifications based on available information related to exploration mission scenarios.
Risk Risk of Adverse Cognitive or Behavioral Conditions and Psychiatric Disorders
You are here! Gap BMed-104: Given the potentially negative spaceflight associated CNS changes and behavioral experiences of stressors during long-duration missions (e.g., isolation, confinement, reduced sensory stimulation, altered gravity, space radiation), what are validated modifications to habitat/vehicle to mitigate stressors impacting on CNS / cognition / behavioral health?

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