Low Gravity Cavedium
The low-gravity cavedium (vent shaft) is a laboratory where the locomotion on other (low-gravity) planets can be emulated. This laboratory, named LOOP (Locomotion On Other Planets) has been recently included in the European Space Agency (ESA) ground based facilities (https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Research/Research_Announcements).
The low-gravity is emulated with a Body Weight Support system: the subject is connected with a harness to two long rubber bands that are elongated to reach the desired gravity level. On the floor of the laboratory a treadmill is installed so that different gaits can be performed at various speeds and gradients. A 3D optoelectronic system for kinematics analysis, the surface electromyography for muscle activation and a force platform are the instruments that allow to perform most of the studies for human locomotion.
With this unique setup, in the last years we studied the biomechanics and bioenergetics of different form of human locomotion (walking, running, skipping, hopping) at Mars and Moon gravity level. Among the various results, we showed a great reduction in metabolic cost (energy expenditure normlised by meter) especially in the very different (and costly on Earth) bouncing gaits that reached the same value at Moon gravity. It is important to note that this value is almost the 70% of the walking value on Earth (where walking is the most economical human gaits).
Coordinator: Prof. Alberto E. Minetti
Collaborators: Dott. Gaspare Pavei, Dott. Luca Ruggiero
For more info, visit the LOOP website: http://www.fisiologiaumana.unimi.it/loop-locomotion-on-other-planets.html