A K-State team has been given a NASA research mission: develop a way to measure astronauts’ physical capacities and keep them safe in space, whether they be stationed on the International Space Station or traveling on a potential mission to Mars.
The researchers — led by Thomas Barstow, professor of kinesiology — are using a three-year $1.2 million NASA grant. For the project, the K-State researchers and NASA designed four different types of obstacle courses that simulate various lunar tasks:
* Ten Kilometer Walkback: Participants perform several light exercises and then run or jog 10 kilometers. This simulates a scenario where an astronaut performs work, gets stranded by a broken down rover and has to travel back to basecamp.
* Planetary Navigation Field Test: Participants perform lunar site tasks like climbing ladders, lifting and moving boxes and traversing a rock wall.
* Device Operations Field Test: This test simulates fine motor tasks like turning knobs, hooking hoses and dragging a sled.
* Material Transport Test: Using a wheelbarrow, participants transport weighted cylinders — to simulate rock samples — a distance of 50 meters.