With human exploration of the moon and Mars on the horizon, research considerations for space suit redesign have surfaced. The portable life support system (PLSS) used in conjunction with the space suit during the Apollo missions may have influenced the dynamic balance of the gait pattern. This investigation explored potential issues with the PLSS design that may arise during the Mars exploration. A better understanding of how the location of the PLSS load influences the dynamic stability of the gait pattern may provide insight, such that space missions may have more productive missions with a smaller risk of injury and damaging equipment while falling. We explored the influence the PLSS load position had on the dynamic stability of the walking pattern. While walking, participants wore a device built to simulate possible PLSS load configurations. Floquet and Lyapunov analysis techniques were used to quantify the dynamic stability of the gait pattern. The dynamic stability of the gait pattern was influenced by the position of load. PLSS loads that are placed high and forward on the torso resulted in less dynamically stable walking patterns than loads placed evenly and low on the torso. Furthermore, the kinematic results demonstrated that all joints of the lower extremity may be important for adjusting to different load placements and maintaining dynamic stability. Space scientists and engineers may want to consider PLSS designs that distribute loads evenly and low, and space suit designs that will not limit the sagittal plane range of motion at the lower extremity joints.
Walking in Simulated Martian Gravity: Influence of the Portable Life Support System’s Design on Dynamic Stability
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Scott-Pandorf, M. M., O’Connor, D. P., Layne, C. S., Josić, K., and Kurz, M. J. (August 5, 2009). "Walking in Simulated Martian Gravity: Influence of the Portable Life Support System’s Design on Dynamic Stability." ASME. J Biomech Eng. September 2009; 131(9): 091005. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.3148465
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