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Principal Investigator-in-a-BoxHuman performance in orbit is currently limited by several factors beyond the intrinsic awkwardness of motor control in weightlessness. Cognitive functioning can be affected by such factors as cumulative sleep loss, stress and the psychological effects of long-duration small-group isolation. When an astronaut operates a scientific experiment, the performance decrement associated with such factors can lead to lost or poor quality data and even the total loss of a scientific objective, at great cost to the sponsors and to the dismay of the Principal Investigator. In long-duration flights, as anticipated on the International Space Station and on any planetary exploration, the experimental model is further complicated by long delays between training and experiment, and the large number of experiments each crew member must perform. Although no documented studies have been published on the subject, astronauts report that an unusually large number of simple errors are made in space. Whether a result of the effects of microgravity, accumulated fatigue, stress or other factors, this pattern of increased error supports the need for a computerized decision-making aid for astronauts performing experiments. Artificial intelligence and expert systems might serve as powerful tools for assisting experiments in space. Those conducting space experiments typically need assistance exactly when the planned checklist does not apply. Expert systems, which use bits of human knowledge and human methods to respond appropriately to unusual situations, have a flexibility that is highly desirable in circumstances where an invariably predictable course of action/response does not exist. Frequently the human expert on the ground is unavailable, lacking the latest information, or not consulted by the astronaut conducting the experiment. In response to these issues, we have developed "Principal Investigator-in-a-Box," or [PI], to capture the reasoning process of the real expert, the Principal Investigator, and combine that with real-time data available in space in order to advise the astronaut about how to proceed in real time. [PI] advises the astronaut during the progress of an experiment in much the same way a real Principal Investigator might do while looking over the astronaut's shoulder. In its original application, [PI] mimicked several of the tasks of the Principal Investigator, including data quality monitoring, troubleshooting, prescheduling, protocol management and "interesting data" detection. The proposed research focuses on the efficacy of this technique as applied to the data quality monitoring and troubleshooting aspects of [PI].
Document ID
Document Type
Young, Laurence R.
(Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
September 30, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Subject Category
Behavioral Sciences
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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