Experimental Investigation of Vertical Translation Design Commonality Across Differing Gravitation Levels
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Current knowledge of human habitation in partial-gravity is limited to six brief sorties to the lunar surface. As interest in human exploration and longer-term habitation of the Moon and Mars increases, methods must be created to better understand how to design a living environment for humans in differing gravity levels. This paper presents the results of recent studies at the University of Maryland on human accessibility between different floors of a habitat in various gravity levels, based on the use of body segment parameter ballasting in the underwater environment to represent the gravitational force on each body segment in ascending and descending ladders and staircases. This has culminated in the development of a dedicated test apparatus which allows full reconfiguration of the angle and tread spacing on staircases, and can be used both underwater and in the laboratory environment. Test subjects ascend and descend the ladder at various gravity conditions to determine the effect of differing apparent gravity levels, with data collected on both performance and gaits as measured by motion capture systems. Extensions to this work are proposed that focus on part-task simulations such as servicing and repair of equipment racks, and focused studies on the habitat design implications of rotating habitats for artificial gravity.