Letters of



Life Sciences





Spatial disorientation (SD), the incorrect perception of attitude, altitude, or motion of one's own body, aircraft, or spacecraft, is a major problem facing military aviators and NASA astronauts. This problem costs the Department of Defense $300 million per year in lost aircraft and can cause astronauts to have motion sickness during shuttle missions. This project examines possible ways of increasing situational awareness. Specifically, it will examine how vibrotactile intensity is perceived in altered gravity environments. The experiment will build upon a previous experiment flown in August 1999. Results of this project should be of interest throughout the aerospace community. Tactile displays could provide better orientation awareness for astronauts during EVAs (Extra-Vehicular Activities), navigational cues to Special Forces operators during HALO (High-Altitude Low-Opening) parachute insertions, and silent communication for military units on the ground and in the water. Additionally, tactile technology could be used for navigational assistance for the blind by using a Global Positioning System (GPS) and an electronic map stored on a wearable computer.

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