ELaboratore Immagini TElevisive - Space 2 (ELITE-S2) investigates the connection between brain, visualization and motion in the absence of gravity. By recording and analyzing the three-dimensional motion of crewmembers, this study helps engineers apply ergonomics into future spacecraft designs and determines the effects of weightlessness on breathing mechanisms for long-duration missions. This experiment is a cooperative effort with the Italian Space Agency, ASI.Principal Investigator(s)
Italian Space Agency (ASI), Rome, , Italy
Kayser Italia Srl., Livorno, , Italy
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)Sponsoring Organization
Italian Space Agency (ASI)Research Benefits
Information PendingISS Expedition Duration:
October 2007 - March 2013Expeditions Assigned
16,17,31/32,33/34Previous ISS Missions
The predecessor to this investigation, ELITE-S, was flown on EUROMIR in 1995. A similar experiment, KINELITE, flew on STS-90.
Several experiments done on orbit have demonstrated that similar neural and cognitive mechanisms participate during both imagining and executing a movement. A previous Neurolab study showed that crewmembers used an internal model of gravity, even in microgravity, to initiate the movements of catching a dropped ball. This demonstrated that gravity representation is built into the neural networks involved in planning interceptive movements. More recently, it has been uncovered that activity in the vestibular cortex represents the neural substrate of the internal model of Newton's law in the Earth's gravitational field. However, mental imagery of the laws of motion of objects has not been studied in space to date.
ELITE-S2 provides a system for observations on body motor control during long term exposure to microgravity and performs quantitative data collection and analysis on board the International Space Station (ISS). The primary goal of ELITE-S2 is to study the strategies for dynamic control of posture and body motion and adaptive mechanisms which allow adjustment of motor control strategies resulting from exposure to microgravity. ELITE-S2 investigates whether gravity representation also affects mental imagery of an interceptive task in microgravity. In addition, it investigates the effects of weightlessness on breathing mechanisms.
To better understand the neural mechanism for motor control in microgravity, ELITE-S2 analyzes movement of crewmembers from sitting to standing while monitoring the quantitative postural response to optokinetic stimulation (visual tracking of motion). The role of sensory inputs in the organization of the locomotion patterns and the role of sensorimotor integration mechanisms are evaluated during pointing and reaching tasks. Cardiorespiratory physiology is examined by quantitatively analyzing the chest wall compartment mechanics. To aid in ergonomic design and human factors for future spacecraft design, this investigation also evaluates working posture.
Understanding the ability of the human brain to mentally represent the presence or absence of gravity is key to training crewmembers to complete tasks in a low gravity environment. Ergonomics findings from this study can be used in the design of future spacecraft and space-qualified systems.
Two experiment protocols have been defined for ELITE-S2:
This study allows for the application of ergonomics in the design of future spacecraft and determines the effects of microgravity on breathing mechanisms for long-duration missions.Earth Applications
This study has important implications not only for understanding basic mechanisms of motor control, but also for rehabilitative training of neurological patients with impaired motor control. New rehabilitation techniques are based on virtual reality and mental rehearsal of motor actions.
The hardware for the experiment (the Interface Management Unit) is installed in an EXPRESS Rack and the cameras and body restraints must be mounted in specific areas. A total of three sessions of ELITE-S2 with three crewmembers participating in each session are required. The first session is immediately following vehicle docking to ISS, the second session one month after docking and the third session shortly before the crewmembers return to Earth. The data captured by the cameras in each session is downlinked for analysis by ground teams. The ground teams study the mental representations of gravity and microgravity as well as the adaptive mechanisms of motor control to microgravity.Operational Protocols
For each protocol, a set of body landmarks are identified and reflective markers are applied on the crewmember performing the experiment. The crewmember performs prescheduled movements (for example, the subject has to reach and brush, without exerting forces) with his index finger tips then return to the initial position. Video cameras trace the trajectories of the body parts of the crewmember catching the light reflected by the markers. This allows the cameras to record the kinetic and trajectory data of the movement.
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Pedrocchi AL, Baroni G, Sada S, Marcon E, Pedotti A, Ferrigno G. Optimisation of shape kernel and threshold in image-processing motion analysers. Medical and Biological Engineering & Computing. 2001; 39(5): 525-533.
Pedrocchi AL, Pedotti A, Baroni G, Massion J, Ferrigno G. Inverse dynamic investigation for voluntary trunk movements in weightlessness: a new microgravity-specific strategy. Journal of Biomechanics. 2003; 36: 1691-1700.
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Rigotti C, Cerveri P, Andreoni G, Pedotti A, Ferrigno G. Modeling and Driving of a Reduced Human Mannequin through Motion Captured Data: a Network Approach. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics. Part A, Systems and humans. 2001; 31: 187-193.
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Ferrigno G, Pedrocchi AL, Baroni G, Bracciaferri F, Neri G, Pedotti A. ELITE S2 -- a New Instrument for Multifactorial Movement Analysis on the International Space Station. 54th International Astronautical Congress, Bremen, Germany; 2003 03-G.P.05.
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Pedrocchi AL, Baroni G, Ferrigno G, Massion J, Pedotti A. EUROMIR 95 T4 experiment Human Posture in microgravity: global results and future perspectives. Journal of Gravitational Physiology. 2002; 9(1): 117-120.
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