NASA's Floating Treadmill
As NASA prepares to send humans back to the moon and eventually beyond, researchers are looking for new ways to keep astronauts' bones healthy and strong. To do so, a team of engineers from NASA's Glenn Research Center and The Cleveland Clinic Foundation developed the enhanced Zero-gravity Locomotion Simulator (eZLS), a treadmill that simulates the space environment. The information they gather will help NASA design better exercise equipment and develop exercise routines for astronauts. It also could help doctors treat and prevent osteoporosis, a disease that threatens 44 million Americans.
The eZLS is mounted vertically in a free-standing frame and includes padded straps that support a runner under the head, torso, arms and legs. Four bearings that look like hockey pucks are located on the bottom of the machine. They have tiny holes that emit a thin film of air, causing the machine to float much like the puck on an air-hockey table.
Photographer: Quentin Schwinn (RS Information Systems, Inc.)
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