Astronauts on the moon have a new way to stay fit, and it involves the wall of death (2024)

Astronauts on the moon have a new way to stay fit, and it involves the wall of death

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There's a well-known scene from the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."


SIMON: Camera follows astronaut Frank Poole as he jogs around the outside edge of a circular spacecraft. He's sticking out sideways from the edge, enjoying the weightlessness of outer space. A group of Italian scientists have come up with a similar method that in theory, at least, could help keep astronauts fit. Alberto Minetti, a professor of physiology at the University of Milan, and a team tested their theory on a wall of death. That's the giant cylinder motorcycle stunt performers ride around the inside of sideways so fast, they don't fall down. Professor Minetti joins us from Milan. Thanks so much for being with us.

ALBERTO MINETTI: It's my pleasure. Thank you.

SIMON: Why can't astronauts just use a treadmill to stay in shape?

MINETTI: (Laughter) Well, the problem with the moon is that we have just a little gravity, and whenever we're trying to run on the surface of the moon vertically - I mean conventionally running, as we would do in jogging and running on Earth - we couldn't reach a very high speed because when we tried to do that, we came up with just bumping on the ground by making big jumps. You need to build up your own artificial gravity.

SIMON: How does running sideways solve that problem?

MINETTI: As you are moving fast on a circular path, you develop a centrifugal force that you contrast with your centripetal force produced by your foot muscles, and so you feel a higher gravity with respect to the moon.

SIMON: How would your idea work?

MINETTI: Well, on the Earth, you need to emulate the lunar gravity, so we need to use some sorts of rubber bands. Well, they're actually bungee jumping cords that we extend 40 meters on the top of the subject. And by using a harness on the subject, we could remove a great part of the body weight. At that time, then your weight is exactly the weight that you would have on the moon, and so whenever - whichever movement you are doing, it's a movement that is in a simulated lower gravity.

Then you need to try to start moving on the inside of this big cylinder, and that is the real challenge because our subjects had some difficulties at the beginning, but after a few attempts, they were capable of putting themselves into position and stay horizontal during two, three or four laps.

SIMON: And so you did this inside what's called the wall of death?

MINETTI: Yes, we had to rent one from people from amusem*nt parks, and we have only one in Italy.

SIMON: So this is a serious project.

MINETTI: Well, I hope so, actually. Many things in science start from a curiosity. One of our points of curiosity was just to check, what are the locomotion types that we cannot do on Earth that could be possible in other planets? We are just demonstrating, first of all, that we can do something that on the Earth, we couldn't do in the wall of death by running.

SIMON: You going to try it?

MINETTI: Oh, no, I'm 69. That's impossible.

SIMON: I would root for you. Alberto Minetti is a professor of physiology at the University of Milan. Thanks so much for being with us.

MINETTI: Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you very much.


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Astronauts on the moon have a new way to stay fit, and it involves the wall of death (2024)


Astronauts on the moon have a new way to stay fit, and it involves the wall of death? ›

However, on the moon, which has one-sixth of the gravity of Earth, astronauts could conquer the wall at running speeds of just 8 mph (13 km/h), according to new research, published May 1 in the journal Royal Society Open Science. This could help astronauts stay fit on the lunar surface, the scientists wrote.

How do astronauts survive on the Moon? ›

The command and lunar modules protected the astronauts against such hazards as cosmic radiation, extremes of heat and cold, and micro-meteoroids. The Environmental Control Systems and the Crew Life Support Systems in the spacecraft provided the crews with oxygen, water, and food.

When an astronaut lands on the Moon, what weight is? ›

Since the Moon is smaller than Earth, it has a weaker gravitational pull. In fact, the Moon only has 1/6 the gravity that Earth does. This means you weigh six times less on the Moon than you do on Earth!

Why can't astronauts on the Moon talk to each other as they can on Earth? ›

The moon does not have atmosphere. Since there is no medium which is necessary for generation and propagation of sound, between the astronauts, direct sound propagation between them is not possible. Therefore, the astronauts use some technology like the one used in our cell-phones to communicate with each other.

Why does an astronaut weigh less on the Moon than on Earth? ›

The Earth's Moon has considerably less mass than the Earth itself. Not only is the Moon smaller than the Earth, but it is only about 60 percent as dense as Earth. Thus, the gravitational attraction on the Moon is much less than it is here on Earth, and a person weighs less on the Moon.

How do astronauts stay alive? ›

The air quality on the shuttle and the station is vital to the astronauts. Without oxygen, the crew would get fatigued, black out and die. The Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) aboard the station creates oxygen using electrolysis.

How did astronauts survive? ›

In addition to providing vital oxygen and pressurization, spacesuits also shield astronauts from other dangers and harm. "There is a temperature problem and radiation and micrometeoroid threats," de Mey said. "So spacesuits are designed to provide physical protection of the astronauts in outer space."

How much would a 100 lb person weigh on Mars? ›

Weight is a measure of gravity's effect on mass. It varies based on factors like your mass, the planet's gravity, and the distance between you and the planet's center. If you weighed 100 lbs on Earth, you would weigh only 38 lbs on Mars!

Why would my weight change if I went to the moon? ›

If you were standing on the Moon, your mass— or the amount of stuff you're made of—wouldn't change. However, your weight would change because the gravity on the Moon is much weaker than it is on Earth. In deep space, you could lift up an 11,000 pound Asian elephant with one finger!

Why does the sky look black on the moon? ›

In space or on the Moon there is no atmosphere to scatter light. The light from the sun travels a straight line without scattering and all the colors stay together. Looking toward the sun we thus see a brilliant white light while looking away we would see only the darkness of empty space.

Can two astronauts hear each other on the moon? ›

Sound requires medium to travel. The absence of atmosphere on the Moon makes it medium less. Thus, the astronauts on the Moon cannot hear each other directly because of absence of the medium.

Why can't one hear the sound of clapping on the moon? ›

Sound waves need a medium to travel. As there is no atmosphere or medium on the moon, that's why no sound can be heard on the moon.

Does the moon cause ocean tides? ›

The Moon and Earth exert a gravitational pull on each other. On Earth, the Moon's gravitational pull causes the oceans to bulge out on both the side closest to the Moon and the side farthest from the Moon. These bulges create high tides. The low points are where low tides occur.

How high can you jump on the moon? ›

On the moon, you'd be able to jump six times higher than you can right now — if you can manage 23.6 inches (60 centimeters) on Earth, then you could clear over 9.8 feet (three meters) on the moon, smashing the current world high jump record.

Is gravity weaker at night? ›

No, the time in no way affects the Force of gravitation. The force only depends on the masses of the objects and the square of distance in between them.

How did the astronauts stay on the Moon without gravity? ›

The surface gravity on the Moon is only 16.5% of the Earth's value. So, a person weighing 80 kg on Earth would only weigh 13.2 kg and because their muscles had developed to carry around an 80 kg body on the Earth, that person could achieve some incredible feats in the Moon's low gravity.

How to get oxygen on the Moon? ›

All lunar rock and soil do, however, contain approximately 45 wt% oxygen, combined with metals or nonmetals to form oxides. This oxygen can be extracted if thermal, electrical, or chemical energy is invested to break the chemical bonds.

How do astronauts survive in zero gravity? ›

Spacecraft also must be designed to take microgravity into account. During spacewalks, for example, astronauts require extra handholds and footholds on the exterior of their spacecraft so that they can anchor themselves and not float away. (Astronauts also attach to them in tethers in case they lose their grip.)

How did astronauts eat on the Moon? ›

Apollo astronauts were the first to have hot water, which made rehydrating foods easier and improved the food's taste. These astronauts were also the first to use utensils via the “spoon bowl,” a plastic container that could be opened and its contents eaten with a spoon.


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