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Mental Representation of Spatial Cues During Space Flight (3D-Space)

OpNom: 3D Space

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

Experiment Overview

This content was provided by Gilles Clement, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.

Information provided courtesy of the Erasmus Experiment Archive.
Brief Summary

The Mental Representation of Spatial Cues During Space Flight (3D-Space) experiment investigates the effects of exposure to microgravity on the mental representation of spatial cues by astronauts during and after space flight. The absence of the gravitational frame of reference during space flight could be responsible for disturbances in the mental representation of spatial cues, such as the perception of horizontal and vertical lines, the perception of an object's depth, and the perception of a target's distance.

Principal Investigator(s)

  • Gilles Clement, Ph.D., International Space University (ISU), Strasbourg, France
  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)

  • Corinna E. Lathan, Ph.D., AnthroTronix, Incorporated, Silver Springs, MD, United States
  • Developer(s)

    AnthroTronix Incorporated, Silver Springs, MD, United States
    Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Toulouse, , France

    Sponsoring Space Agency

    European Space Agency (ESA)

    Sponsoring Organization

    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration:

    April 2008 - September 2011

    Expeditions Assigned


    Previous ISS Missions

    3D-Space is an ongoing investigation which began on ISS Expedition 17.

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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview

    • Handwriting and drawing tasks in the Mental Representation of Spatial Cues During Space Flight (3D-Space) investigation will be used to compare the mental representation of the horizontal versus vertical components of layouts of letters and two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects.

    • 3D-Space will investigate if depth perception is altered during space flight by analyzing the strength of geometric optical illusions based on perspective. Subjects will also be asked to indicate which of normal, elongated, or shrunk three-dimesional objects look normal while in microgravity and after return to Earth.

    • 3D-SPACE will investigate distance perception in microgravity by comparing the judgments of relative distance between three-dimesional objects and landmarks on three-dimesional natural scenes, as well as absolute distance between self and one landmark


    This experiment involves comparisons of preflight, inflight, and postflight perceptions and mental imagery, with special reference to spaceflight-related decreases in the vertical component of percepts. There are two methodological foci: The first uses multiple measures, stimulus production and stimulus evaluation, to disentangle perceptual and motor contributions. The second is use of a digitizing tablet for subject written input. Virtual reality is used for information display and presentation of perceptual stimulus.

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    Space Applications

    Information Pending

    Earth Applications

    Information Pending

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    Operational Requirements

    Information Pending

    Operational Protocols

    Preflight baseline data collection (BDC) will occur at approximately launch minus (L-) 90, L-60, and L-30 days. One BDC session will include performance of three perceptual/motor tasks lasting about 10 minutes each. One task includes writing words horizontally and vertically and drawing geometrical objects using a digitizing tablet. A second task involves adjusting the shape of a geometrical illusion or a three-dimensional object presented in a head-mounted virtual reality display. The third task includes estimating the relative or absolute distances between objects and landmarks in three-dimensional images presented in the head-mounted display. Postflight sessions are identical to those conducted preflight and will be performed on return plus (R+) 0, R+1 or 2, R+4, and R+8 days.

    Inflight sessions include the same tasks as the preflight and postflight BDC sessions along with set-up and stowage of associated equipment. Four sessions are planned, with the first session on flight day 10, the second and third session at mid-flight, and a final session within 1-2 weeks before landing. During the tasks subjects will be free-floating to minimize orientation and cognitive reference cues.

    This experiment uses the EPM laptop computer on board Columbus. A digitizing tablet, head-mounted display, and a finger trackball will interface with the laptop (using associated cables) for performance of the required tasks.

    A total of ten subjects are required to complete this investigation.

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    Results/More Information

    Information Pending

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    Related Websites
  • ISS Medical Project
  • The information on this page is provided courtesy of the ESA Erasmus Experiment Archive.
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    image Artist view of a crewmember performing the 3D-Space experiment. Image courtesy of CNRS.
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    image NASA Image: ISS017E011926 - Greg Chamitoff, Flight Engineer works with 3D-Space experiment in the Japanese Experiment Module, Kibo, during Expedition 17.
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    image NASA Image: ISS019E012429 - Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata, Expedition 19 flight engineer, prepares to perform the Mental Representation of Spatial Cues During Space Flight (3D-Space) experiment Columbus module.
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    image NASA Image: ISS020E012614 - ESA Multipurpose Laptop with a prepared HDD (Hard Disk Drive),data storage on a PCMCIA memory card,and an electronic pen table connected to it to be used by the Expedition 20 crew during the French/CNES neuroscientific research experiment 3D Space (SAP) as Subject #5. Experiment was conducted in the Columbus module.
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    image NASA Image: ISS026E027001- European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli, Expedition 26 flight engineer, conducts a test run with the French/CNES neuroscientific research experiment ?3D-Space? (SAP) in the Columbus laboratory of the International Space Station. While floating freely, Nespoli used the ESA multipurpose laptop with a prepared hard disk drive, data storage on a memory card, and an electronic pen table connected to it. 3D-Space, which involves distance, writing and illusion exercises, is designed to test the hypothesis that altered visual perception affects motor control.
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    Information provided by the investigation team to the ISS Program Scientist's Office.
    If updates are needed to the summary please contact JSC-ISS-Program-Science-Group. For other general questions regarding space station research and technology, please feel free to call our help line at 281-244-6187 or e-mail at JSC-ISS-Payloads-Helpline.