A good GRASP on the New Year

NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins performs the Grasp experiment in the Columbus module of the International Space Station forward of the New Year. The experiment research how the central nervous system, particularly hand-eye coordination, adapts to microgravity. Grasp stands for Gravitational References for Sensimotor Performance and seeks to raised perceive how the central nervous system integrates info from totally different senses, resembling sight, sound and contact, to coordinate hand actions and decide what position gravity performs.How does the experiment work? Mike dons digital actuality (VR) gear that’s coupled with a laptop computer and pushed by an audio/graphics system. The VR headset simulates a sequence of duties for the him, whereas a 3D movement tracker updates the show in actual time in response to his hand, physique and arm actions. Measurements are taken on floor and through spaceflight. ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet was the first to make use of the VR gear to carry out the experiment throughout his 2016 mission. ESA astronauts Alexander Gerst and Luca Parmitano adopted go well with throughout their respective missions. Watch a video of Alexander performing the experiment. Researchers suspect that, on Earth, the mind makes use of gravity as a reference. When reaching for an object, the mind makes use of visible clues in addition to how your shoulder muscle groups counteract the downward pressure of gravity to maintain your arm straight to calculate the distance between your hand and the object. However, the sensation of floating for months on finish is one thing our brains didn’t need to cope with till final century. Seeing how they adapt to this surroundings gives useful perception. Spearheaded by researchers at French nationwide house company CNES, the examine helps us establish the workings of the vestibular system that retains our stability, and the way it connects to the different sensory organs. In different phrases, Grasp investigates the physiology behind hand-eye coordination, shedding mild on tips on how to deal with sufferers displaying a lack of vestibular perform on Earth. For astronauts, the analysis will probably be helpful throughout spacewalks, the place coordination in weightlessness with few visible clues is important.

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