When watching NASA’s historic video footage of the Apollo astronauts on the moon, it becomes clear that the alien lunar gravity was a little troublesome. The moonwalkers would often trip, stumble and wipe out as they explored the dusty landscape.
Now, in a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE today (Sept. 3), researchers suggest that it wasn’t just the NASA astronauts’ unfamiliarity with the strange lunar environment that knocked them off their feet — it may have been their brains lacking a gravitational reference for which way was “up, ” possibly causing a loss in perception.
“The perception of the relative orientation of oneself and the world is important not only to balance, but also for many other aspects of perception including recognizing faces and objects and predicting how objects are going to behave when dropped or thrown, ” said Laurence Harris of York University, Toronto. “Misinterpreting which way is up can lead to perceptual errors and threaten balance if a person uses an incorrect reference point to stabilize themselves.”
Through a series of European Space Agency centrifuge experiments funded by the Canadian Space Agency, Harris and co-investigator Michael Jenkin (also from York University) were able to simulate gravitational fields of different magnitudes. Subjects being accelerated by the centrifuge were then asked which direction they thought “up” was. Through this perceptual test, Harris and Jenkin discovered that “the threshold level of gravity needed to just influence a person’s orientation judgment was about 15 percent of the level found on Earth, ” according to a university press release.
Interestingly, 15 percent Earth gravity (or 0.15 G) is very close to the gravity experienced by the Apollo astronauts on the lunar surface — 0.1654 G or 16.5 percent of Earth’s gravity.
Although this is likely only one of the many reasons why astronauts on the moon often spent time eating moon dirt — other reasons possibly include lack of maneuverability in bulky spacesuits and restricted visibility while navigating the rocky terrain — understanding how the human brain responds to different gravitational fields is essential if we are to become a multiplanetary species.
“If the brain does not sense enough gravity to determine which way is up, astronauts may get disoriented, which can lead to errors like flipping switches the wrong way or moving the wrong way in an emergency, ” said Jenkin. “Therefore, it’s crucial to understand how the direction of up is established and to establish the relative contribution of gravity to this direction before journeying to environments with gravity levels different to that of Earth.”
Fortunately for future Mars explorers, say the researchers, their balance should be just fine. The Martian gravity of 38 percent that of Earth’s is more than sufficient to aid future Mars colonists’ perception of orientation.blogging as a nurse blogging at medium blogging at work blogging at fl250 blogging at 70 blogging at 40 blogging at 60 blogging at college blogging at the limit before blogging blogging platform before know before blogging tips before blogging considerations before blogging blogging behind the scenes psychology behind blogging secret behind blogging meaning behind blogging difference between blogging and vlogging difference between blogging and microblogging difference between blogging and content writing difference between blogging and website difference between blogging and podcasting difference between blogging and journalism difference between blogging and affiliate marketing difference between blogging and social media blogging beyond the classroom moving beyond blogging beyond blogging blogging by sophia lee blogging by numbers blogging by google blogging by maya bloggings by boz blogging by email blogging by definition blogging step by step blogging during covid 19 blogging during a divorce blogging during weight loss blogging during war travel blogging during covid covid-19 blog topics covid blog ideas blogging quizlet blogging from your phone blogging from paradise blogging from scratch blogging from iphone blogging from ipad blogging from the heart blogging from home blogging from home jobs in blog or on blog in your blog or on your blog blogging in the elementary classroom blogging in education blogging in google blogging in 2022 blogging in wordpress turning blogging into a business turn blogging into career translate blogging into kannada blogging translate into bengali getting into blogging fall into blogging how to make money while blogging blogging like blogging like apps blogging like website blogging like site blogging platforms like medium blogging sites like tumblr blogging sites like medium blogging near philadelphia blogging classes near me blogging course near me blogging workshops near me blogging coaching near me blogging groups near me blogging events near me blogging of photography blogging of e commerce blogging of music blogging of art blogging of cars blogging of computer blogging of a product blogging of future blogging blast off guest blogging off page write off blogging expenses money off blogging