Imagine living and working in a small, confined space with five other teammates for over a year. Your team needs to complete a series of scientific experiments and perform other rigorous tasks, with the goal of exploring a distant location in a dangerous, even life-threatening, mission. If you are successful, you will then spend a year "commuting" to your Earth home in the same confined quarters and challenging conditions (see the new Orion space capsule). During this assignment, "headquarters" cannot provide you with quick advice or coaching, because there is up to a 15-minute communication delay, but you still need to coordinate as a team with the people back at headquarters. From a personal perspective, during these three years, you cannot physically see Earth, feel gravity, and you cannot spend time with your family. And if you, or any of your teammates, are having a bad day, you cannot simply go out for a walk or call in sick. That is the challenge of long duration space exploration (LDSE).
We are currently working on a three-year grant with NASA to better understand how to compose, train, and sustain resilient LDSE teams. I'll be talking about this in April during the Society for I/O Psychology Conference being held in Houston.