Friday, October 15, 2010

Abs In Space


CBS News has just featured a fantastic slide show on their website, showing all the different forms of exercise on the International Space Station. Great stuff!

Running and cycling and lifting, o my! It's harder than you'd think in micro-gravity. Grouped by theme from the NASA archives, the pictures show various astronauts exercising on all the available contraptions in space, from 2003 to present.

This shot of Koichi Wakata is my favorite, because it really brings home the idea that there is no "up" or "down" in weightlessness. It can be confusing for the mind and body to orient itself \during physical activity. The few hours per day one is "strapped into" one of the exercise machines is among the few times one would feel anchored – or as close to being "stationery" as one can ever be in space:

Astronaut Slideshow
JAXA Astronaut Koichi Wakata

Since things like standard dumbbells don't provide any real resistance in low Earth orbit, NASA developed the aRED, or the advanced Resistive Exercise Device – which astronaut Sandy Magnus is also shown using. Adjustable to body sizes and types, the system allows people to simulate weight-lifting curls and presses.

Incidentally, it's also very similar to the device being used in the newest flight Analog simulation on the ground, in the NASA iRATS study... How timely for CBS!

The ESA's Thomas Reiter, as well as NASA's Daniel Tani and Ed Lu, are shown on the CEVIS, or the Cycle Ergometer with Vibration Isolate System. Yeah, fancy way of staying "stationery bike in space." This will also be used in iRATS!

Thomas Reiter
German "Weltraumfahrer" Thomas Reiter

Wow, check out that cramped, equipment-laden box of buttons and wires! Not exactly the refreshing bike ride in the park you might enjoy on Earth... but a small price to pay to attempt to keep hearts, bones and muscles healthy during long-duration expeditions.

Sunita Williams and Nicole Stott are shown running the Treadmill Vibration Isolation System (TVIS) in the Zvezda service module – eventually to be replaced by the newer Colbert Treadmill (recently brought up to the ISS by STS-128) now being tested in the Harmony module.