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Improving Realism in Reduced Gravity SimulatorsSince man was first determined to walk on the moon, simulating the lunar environment became a priority. Providing an accurate reduced gravity environment is crucial for astronaut training and hardware testing. This presentation will follow the development of reduced gravity simulators to a final comparison of environments between the currently used systems. During the Apollo program era, multiple systems were built and tested, with several NASA centers having their own unique device. These systems ranged from marionette-like suspension devices where the subject laid on his side, to pneumatically driven offloading harnesses, to parabolic flights. However, only token comparisons, if any, were made between systems. Parabolic flight allows the entire body to fall at the same rate, giving an excellent simulation of reduced gravity as far as the biomechanics and physical perceptions are concerned. While the effects are accurate, there is limited workspace, limited time, and high cost associated with these tests. With all mechanical offload systems only the parts of the body that are actively offloaded feel any reduced gravity effects. The rest of the body still feels the full effect of gravity. The Partial Gravity System (Pogo) is the current ground-based offload system used to training and testing at the NASA Johnson Space Center. The Pogo is a pneumatic type system that allows for offloaded motion in the z-axis and free movement in the x-axis, but has limited motion in the y-axis. The pneumatic system itself is limited by cylinder stroke length and response time. The Active Response Gravity Offload System (ARGOS) is a next generation groundbased offload system, currently in development, that is based on modern robotic manufacturing lines. This system is projected to provide more z-axis travel and full freedom in both the x and y-axes. Current characterization tests are underway to determine how the ground-based offloading systems perform, how they compare to parabolic flights, and which of the systems is preferable for specific uses. These tests were conducted with six degree of freedom robots and manual inputs. Initial results show a definitive difference in abilities of the two offload systems.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Johnson Space Center
Document Type
Cowley, Matthew
(Lockheed Martin Corp. Houston, TX, United States)
Harvil, Lauren
(Lockheed Martin Corp. Houston, TX, United States)
Clowers, Kurt
(MEI Technologies, Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Clark, Timothy
(MEI Technologies, Inc. Houston, TX, United States)
Rajulu, Sudhakar
(NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2010
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Science And Exploration
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: Seventh Annual One-Day Symposium of Human Factors and Ergonomics
Location: Clear Lake, TX
Country: United States
Start Date: May 21, 2010
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