From earth analogues to space: Learning how to boldly go

Sheryl L. Bishop

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    12 Scopus citations


    The need to find relevant terrestrial substitutes, that is, analogues, for teams operating in extraterrestrial and microgravity environments is driven by extraordinary demands formission success. Unlike past frontiers where failure on the part of various groups to succeed represented far more limited implications for continued progress within these environments, accidents like Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003 underscored the magnified cost of failure for space missions. Where past human frontiers were characterized by centralized decisions to engage in exploration and development largely under the dictates of authoritarian governments or individual sponsors, the exploration of space has been significantly influenced by the general public’s perception of “acceptable risk” and fiscal worthiness. To date, space missions have failed due to technological deficiencies. However, history is replete with examples of exploration and colonization that failed due to human frailties, including those that reflect failures of the group. Both historical literature and research on teams operating within extreme environments, including space, have clearly indicated that psychological and sociocultural factors are components critical for individual and group success. Given the limited access to the space frontier and the investment in collective effort and resources, our ability to study individual and group functioning in the actual space environment has been, and will continue to be, severely limited. Thus, studying groups in terrestrial extreme environments as analogues has been sought to provide predictive insight into the many factors that impact group performance, health, and well-being in challenging environments. This chapter provides an overview of the evolution of research utilizing terrestrial analogues and addresses the challenges for selecting, training, and supporting teams for long-duration space missions. An examination of how analogue environments can contribute to our knowledge of factors affecting functioning and well-being at both the physiological and the psychological levels will help define the focus for future research.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationOn Orbit and Beyond
    Subtitle of host publicationPsychological Perspectives on Human Spaceflight
    PublisherSpringer Berlin Heidelberg
    Number of pages26
    ISBN (Electronic)9783642305832
    ISBN (Print)9783642305825
    StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Engineering


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