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Results

Magnetic Spacewalker:

Our first impression was that the magnetic shoes can't be used in the intended way as first thought. A normal walking movement is not possible in zero-g because the body uses way too much force, and the person flies away if she doesn't reduce her effort dramatically. But even then one pushes off automatically when trying to walk because there is no counteracting force to the pressure of the feet. When you try to lift a foot the other is pressing against the floor with the very same force to overcome the magnetic force, in the moment when the foot is lifted, the pressure of the other foot, which was necessary to overcome the magnetic force, is still working, you feel a jerk and fly off. To see it this way, a magnet could be as strong as possible, as soon as a person can lift a foot she can't walk. But to take this for sure requires further tests with stronger magnets.

Also the body posture changes in zero gravity, as soon as you give over to it, the body obtains a neutral posture which I found unsuitable for walking. But in my opinion the body posture depends as well on the adaptation and familiarisation of a person to the zero-g environment. Nevertheless I had the feeling that as soon as I came into the weightlessness, I didn't feel like walking since it is so much easier in such an environment to move floating from one point to another.

But we found out that it is possible to move with the help of the magnets, but only when sliding the feet forward one by one. To fix oneself on the plates is also possible, but our feelings were that the magnets should be made stronger then, because we underestimated the power of the legs. We also had shoes with different magnets with us, and the team member with the stronger shoes had definitely more success at fixing himself on the plates.

The logical consequence out of this would be in my opinion to develop this method as a help for fixation, but not for walking, and for this purpose it should be tested again with stronger magnets on further flights.

If this method should be developed for really walking in zero-g, the magnets have to be electrical magnets with sensor controls to turn the magnets of the foot which is being lifted off and leave the ones of the other foot on, to stay on the metal surface with one foot. Then, the magnets need to come back on when the foot is being put "down", and the same procedure has to be repeated with the other foot and so on. But the question remains if this method is practicable for use in the interior of a space station, because of the created strong electromagnetic fields which could disturb sensitive experiments, and the high energy consumption of the electromagnets (the energy supplies on a space station are always limited).

In my opinion this method of locomotion is rather suitable for extravehicular activities, which is of limited duration and requires a good fixation. Inside the space station it is way easier to float from one workstation to the other and get fixed at the place itself. Also the psychological factor plays a role here, as I already mentioned above it is great fun to move around floating, and from reports of astronauts I know that they feel the same way even after weeks of staying in space. The presumption comes up that the magnetic shoes won't be used for walking at all or would land in the broom-cupboard after a short while.

At least we learned a lot about zero gravity and that not everything is as predicted before, because you have to get to know this environment to know how to get along with it.


ECG:

The ECG was wonderfully comfortable to wear and couldn't be felt also in zero-g, it didn't hamper one's movements in any way. Nevertheless we found out that it needs technical improvement before being used in space, especially putting it on took too long, the Cardiomonitor couldn't be put into the electrical contacts of the ECG patch as easy as thought by the manufacturer. Also the contact of the electrodes was bad, they got loose after doing strenuous activities or moving a lot. Therefore we didn't have any data to evaluate, the recordings were all of a very poor quality, no heart signal could be identified. Only one person which was not moving very much had good data for a short while into the flight, but the recorded time being too short to make any conclusions.

The ECG patch is currently being modified to meet the need of situations in which the wearer moves a lot and might be sweating.


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