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Human Research Program

Quantifying and Preventing EVA Injury in Exploration Environments

Canceled Technology Project

Project Description

Quantifying and Preventing EVA Injury in Exploration Environments
EDITOR'S NOTE 7/23/2018: The Human Research Program (HRP) is delaying research on risks associated only with Mars surface operations or long term health, under which this project falls; thus, this project ended early in June 2017 (Information per M. Arya/JSC HRP)

Gas-pressurized space suits cause injuries to astronauts both during training and actual extravehicular activities (EVAs) and significantly increase metabolic expenditure. Current astronaut injury protection systems are inadequate because they are 1) not easily customizable or adjustable, and 2) have not prevented injury thus far. As we utilize various new exploration and training environments, we will likely see new types of injuries accruing to astronauts unless improved protection systems are created. In our previous work we have evaluated astronaut injury and developed prototype protective devices to improve comfort and suit fit. We quantified pressure over the upper arm as a person moves inside the space suit, and revealed body-suit contact and suit articulation. We have identified the most relevant factors attributed to shoulder injury, including anthropometric dimensions, indicating individual suit fit is critical to preventing injuries. Our methods measure performance from a detailed look inside the suit (i.e., the perspective of the astronaut), rather than only analyzing suit motion externally. The product of our research will be to develop an Adjustable Protection Garment to improve astronaut comfort and decrease injury. To ensure the garment’s performance, we will develop an Injury Monitoring System to measure human-suit contact and kinematics over the entire body. These systems will be tested in realistic EVA environments (i.e., in the neutral buoyancy lab, on the ARGOS facility, and/or in planetary exploration mobility tasks) to assess astronaut injury and discomfort. We will quantify pressure ‘hot spots’, assess comfort, and reduce injury potential during EVA tasks with and without the protection garment to ensure that the proposed wearable garment does not cause a performance decrement. Leveraging our previous research on injury analysis, musculoskeletal modeling of EVA injuries, countermeasure systems design and prototyping, we will develop second generation comfort and protection design concepts and a suit-contact sensing system.

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