June 2, 2010
Mars500 Gaming Helps Develop Electronic Helpers For Deep Space Crews
About to be shut away from the outside world, the Mars500 volunteers still get to have fun. Their duties will include regular playing of video games "“ though with a serious purpose.
Results from the games will help develop computerized "Ëelectronic partners' to support crews on future deep space missions.
In addition, they will participate in fortnightly half-hour video game sessions. Crewmen take part three at a time, on a single-player game to fly a lunar lander and a multi-player game where participants cooperate to move colored trails, as well as a collaborative training system familiarizing them with various work procedures.
These sessions will be about more than just enjoyment: the results will be carefully logged and players will fill in detailed questionnaires about their responses to the games, how difficult they found them and their current emotional status.
Interaction between players via instant mail will also be recorded, and even their expressions will be captured via webcam.
The information is being compiled for an ESA project called "ËMission Execution Crew Assistant' (MECA), which is developing personalized software agents to interact with crews on deep space missions, boosting the overall effectiveness of such human-machine teams.
Image Caption: The Mars500 facility in Moscow Credits: ESA TV
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