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Technical Paper

Space Life Support from the Cellular Perspective

Determining the fundamental role of gravity in vital biological systems in space is one of six science and research areas that provides the philosophical underpinning for why NASA exists. The study of cells, tissues, and microorganisms in a spaceflight environment holds the promise of answering multiple intriguing questions about how gravity affects living systems. To enable these studies, specimens must be maintained in an environment similar to that used in a laboratory. Cell culture studies under normal laboratory conditions involve maintaining a highly specialized environment with the necessary temperature, humidity control, nutrient, and gas exchange conditions. These same cell life support conditions must be provided by the International Space Station (ISS) Cell Culture Unit (CCU) in the unique environment of space. The CCU is a perfusion-based system that must function in microgravity, at unit gravity (1g) on earth, and from 0.1g up to 2g aboard the ISS centrifuge rotor.
Technical Paper

Spacelab Neurovestibular Hardware

A set of devices for measurement of human balance orientation and eye movements in weightlessness was developed for neurovestibular experiments on Spacelab. The experiments involve astronaut motion, limb position changes, and moving visual fields, measurements are made of eye movements, muscular activity and orientation perception. This joint US/Canadian research program represent a group of closely related experiments designed to investigate space motion sickness, any associated changes in otolith-mediated responses occurring during weightlessness, and the continuation of changes to postflight conditions. The otoliths are a component of the vestibular apparatus which is located in the middle ear. It is responsible for maintaining the body's balance. Gravitational pull on the otoliths causes them to constantly appraise the nervous system of the position of the head with respect to the direction of gravity.
Technical Paper

Anthropometric and Blood Flow Characteristics Leading to EVA Hand Injury

The aim of this study was to explore if fingernail delamination injury following EMU glove use may be caused by compression-induced blood flow occlusion in the finger. During compression tests, finger blood flow decreased more than 60%, however this occurred more rapidly for finger pad compression (4 N) than for fingertips (10 N). A pressure bulb compression test resulted in 50% and 45% decreased blood flow at 100 mmHg and 200 mmHg, respectively. These results indicate that the finger pad pressure required to articulate stiff gloves is more likely to contribute to injury than the fingertip pressure associated with tight fitting gloves.
Technical Paper

The Anatomy of Knock

The combustion process after auto-ignition is investigated. Depending on the non-uniformity of the end gas, auto-ignition could initiate a flame, produce pressure waves that excite the engine structure (acoustic knock), or result in detonation (normal or developing). For the “acoustic knock” mode, a knock intensity (KI) is defined as the pressure oscillation amplitude. The KI values over different cycles under a fixed operating condition are observed to have a log-normal distribution. When the operating condition is changed (over different values of λ, EGR, and spark timing), the mean (μ) of log (KI/GIMEP) decreases linearly with the correlation-based ignition delay calculated using the knock-point end gas condition of the mean cycle. The standard deviation σ of log(KI/GIMEP) is approximately a constant, at 0.63. The values of μ and σ thus allow a statistical description of knock from the deterministic calculation of the ignition delay using the mean cycle properties
Technical Paper

Additional Findings on the Multi-Modal Demands of “Voice-Command” Interfaces

This paper presents the results of a study of how people interacted with a production voice-command based interface while driving on public roadways. Tasks included phone contact calling, full address destination entry, and point-of-interest (POI) selection. Baseline driving and driving while engaging in multiple-levels of an auditory-vocal cognitive reference task and manual radio tuning were used as comparison points. Measures included self-reported workload, task performance, physiological arousal, glance behavior, and vehicle control for an analysis sample of 48 participants (gender balanced across ages 21-68). Task analysis and glance measures confirm earlier findings that voice-command interfaces do not always allow the driver to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, as some assume.
Technical Paper

Modeling the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) Space Suit: Physiological Implications for Extravehicular Activity (EVA)

Extravehicular activity (EVA) is investigated through experiments testing an actual extravehicular mobility unit (EMU) performing several EVA tasks in the laboratory, and a dynamic model of the EMU space suit is developed. Building directly on earlier work in EVA simulation, the space suit model was created from mass, inertia, and performance data to augment the unsuited 12-segment human model used in previous studies. A modified Preisach model was used to mathematically describe the hysteretic torque characteristics of joints in a pressurized space suit, and implemented numerically based on observed suit parameters. Computational simulations, based loosely on a 1995 EVA involving manipulation of the Spartan astrophysics payload, were performed to observe the effect of suit constraints on simulated astronaut performance.
Technical Paper

The Mars Gravity Biosatellite: Thermal Design Strategies for a Rotating Partial Gravity Spacecraft

A rotating spacecraft which encloses an atmospheric pressure vessel poses unique challenges for thermal control. In any given location, the artificial gravity vector is directed from the center to the periphery of the vehicle. Its local magnitude is determined by the mathematics of centripetal acceleration and is directly proportional to the radius at which the measurement is taken. Accordingly, we have a system with cylindrical symmetry, featuring microgravity at its core and increasingly strong gravity toward the periphery. The tendency for heat to move by convection toward the center of the craft is one consequence which must be addressed. In addition, fluid flow and thermal transfer is markedly different in this unique environment. Our strategy for thermal control represents a novel approach to address these constraints. We present data to theoretically and experimentally justify design decisions behind the Mars Gravity Biosatellite's proposed payload thermal control subassembly.
Technical Paper

The Mars Gravity Biosatellite: Atmospheric Reconditioning Strategies for Extended-Duration Rodent Life Support

We present results which verify the design parameters and suggest performance capabilities/limitations of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite's proposed atmospherics control subassembly. Using a combination of benchtop prototype testing and analytic techniques, we derive control requirements for ammonia. Further, we demonstrate the dehumidification performance of our proposed partial gravity condensing heat exchanger. Ammonia production is of particular concern in rodent habitats. The contaminant is released following chemical degradation of liquid waste products. The rate of production is linked to humidity levels and to the design of habitat modules in terms of bedding substrate, air flow rates, choice of structural materials, and other complex factors. Ammonia buildup can rapidly lead to rodent health concerns and can negatively impact scientific return.
Technical Paper

Bio-Suit Development: Viable Options for Mechanical Counter Pressure

Human explorers of planetary surfaces would benefit greatly from a spacesuit design that facilitates locomotion. To aid in the development of such an extravehicular activity suit, a design effort incorporating the concept of mechanical counter pressure (MCP) was undertaken. Three-dimensional laser scanning of the human body was used to identify the main effects of knee flexion angle on the size and shape of the leg. This laser scanning quantified the changes in shape that must be supported by an MCP garment and the tension that must be developed to produce even MCP. Evaluation of a hybrid-MCP concept using inextensible materials demonstrated strong agreement between experimental data and a mathematical model with rigid cylinder geometry. Testing of a form-fitting garment on the right lower leg of a subject demonstrated successful pressure production. Further research is required to evaluate how evenly pressure can be distributed using the hybrid-MCP concept.
Technical Paper

The Mars Gravity Biosatellite: Innovations in Murine Motion Analysis and Life Support

The MIT-based Mars Gravity Biosatellite payload engineering team has been engaged in designing and prototyping sensor and control systems for deployment within the rodent housing zone of the satellite, including novel video processing and atmospheric management tools. The video module will be a fully autonomous real-time analysis system that takes raw video footage of the specimen mice as input and distills those parameters which are of primary physiological importance from a scientific research perspective. Such signals include activity level, average velocity and rearing behavior, all of which will serve as indicators of animal health and vestibular function within the artificial gravity environment. Unlike raw video, these parameters require minimal storage space and can be readily transmitted to earth over a radio link of very low bandwidth.