Space Suit and Portable Life Support System Center of Gravity Influence on Astronaut Kinematics, Exertion and Efficiency
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NASA has conducted a number of investigations aimed at understanding the physiological and biomechanical effects of spacesuits under a variety of conditions. Though these investigations looked at metabolic rates, ground reaction forces, biomechanics, subjective workload and controllability feedback, there is little information on the influence of variations in the combined spacesuit and portable life support system (PLSS) center of gravity (CG) location on kinematics, exertion and efficiency during the performance of extravehicular activity (EVA) tasks. The work we present in this paper was aimed at developing a quantitative means of evaluating the influence of space suit and PLSS CG location on astronaut EVA task performance in terms of kinematics (joint angular ranges), exertion (joint torques and muscle forces), and efficiency (joint work performed). Four CG locations, representing approximate CG extremes for the NASA MK III and Z1 space suits, were evaluated using a combined experimental and computational approach. Three common EVA tasks were studied: object translation, climbing and walking.