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The enhanced Zero-gravity Locomotion Simulator
9.08.12
 
Exercising in little or no gravity is extremely different than exercising in the typical gravity experienced on Earth. When exploring issues related to exercising in space, Earthbound researchers need a way of simulating reduced gravity environments.

To address this need, Glenn developed and operates the enhanced Zero-gravity Locomotion Simulator (eZLS), a new ground-based simulator developed to address the detrimental physiological effects of spaceflight on the musculoskeletal system.

The eZLS has the ability to mimic the exercise devices found on the International Space Station and other vehicles being developed for future space exploration. It is important to replicate the designs seen on the space station and future vehicles to understand how the interface may affect the resulting forces on the muscles and bones. The eZLS is also a test bed for future exploration missions and can be used to simulate locomotion in partial gravity environments, including the moon and Mars.

Zero-gravity Locomotion Simulator (eZLS)The enhanced Zero-gravity Locomotion Simulator. Credit: NASA
In an effort to develop improved exercise routines and equipment for astronauts, the eZLS allows scientists and engineers to conduct research with human participants in the following areas:

  • Understanding the metabolic cost of locomotion in partial gravity
  • Improving crew comfort during exercise
  • Developing exercise prescriptions
  • Optimizing hardware
  • Developing and characterizing advanced exercise device concepts for exploration missions
Aside from space applications, experiments conducted using the eZLS may help medical researchers improve their understanding of the role of exercise in the prevention of osteoporosis on Earth. The deterioration of bone and muscle during osteoporosis is similar to what occurs in an astronaut's body, although the process is greatly accelerated in space.

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