About the Preflight Adaptation and Virtual Reality Training Laboratory



    Device for Orientation and Motion Environments (DOME) Virtual Reality System Device for Orientation and Motion Environments (DOME) Virtual Reality System.

    The overall goal of the work in this laboratory is to develop and evaluate countermeasures for space motion sickness (SMS), spatial disorientation and sensorimotor disturbances associated with the microgravity environment of space flight. In support of this goal a variety of investigations are performed to better understand perceptual, neurovestibular, and sensorimotor adaptation mechanisms. Our research includes: (1) evaluation of the efficacy of antimotion sickness medications and their effects on human performance, (2) using virtual reality (VR) as a ground-based model of the effects of microgravity on perception, spatial orientation and sensorimotor functions, such as postural control, eye-head and eye-hand coordination, (3) development of countermeasures for the negative effects of microgravity inflight and immediately postflight, and (4) evaluation of different training methods to facilitate preflight adaptation.
    VR4 Head-Mounted Display (HMD) VR4 Head-Mounted Display (HMD)

    The laboratory is equipped with two VR systems: (1) VR4 head-mounted display (HMD), and (2) a 12 ft. spherical dome display called the device for orientation and motion environments (DOME). In addition, the laboratory houses the Tilt-Translation Device (TTD), which is designed to examine the otolith tilt-translation reinterpretation (OTTR) hypothesis, and to preadapt astronauts to this new interpretation of
    Outside view of Tilt-Translation Device (TTD) Outside view of Tilt-Translation Device (TTD)
    otolith signals that occurs during space flight. Evaluation of sensorimotor adaptive responses to exposure to the VR devices and the TTD is accomplished with: (1) Neurocom Equitest to evaluate postural control, (2) binocular video-oculography system for eye movement Outside view of Tilt-Translation Device (TTD) measurements, and a (3) custom, computer-controlled target display for visual and manual target acquisition.

    Inside view of Tilt-Translation Device (TTD) Inside view of Tilt-Translation Device (TTD)

    The Tilt-Translation Device in the Preflight Adaptation Training facility was designed as a ground-based analog to replicate the tilt-translation disturbances following g transitions. Using this device, tilt chair motion is coupled with translation visual scene motion aligned with the horizontal head axis, resulting in a visual-vestibular mismatch in which both canals and otoliths signal tilt while vision does not. A new linear track in development will provide an alternative paradigm during which the chair will tilt within an enclosure that will simultaneously translate so that the resultant gravitoinertial force vector remains Inside view of Tilt-Translation Device (TTD) aligned with the longitudinal body axis, resulting in a mismatch in which the canals and vision signal tilt while the otoliths do not. The primary goals of this ground-based research investigation, funded through NSBRI, are to explore physiological mechanisms and operational implications of disorientation and tilt-translation disturbances reported by crewmembers during and following re-entry, and to evaluate a tactile prosthesis as a countermeasure for improving control of whole-body orientation during passive tilt and translation motion paradigms.

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