With some delay, a few words about my day yesterday on humanity’s outpost in space!
Most of my day’s activities were dedicated to the Italian Space Agency experiment “Blind and Imagined”.
I’ll confess, not the easiest experimental setup, especially for the ISS visitor with the least space time ever (that would be me, at least for a few more days – hey, you have to find your records where you can!).
“Blind and Imagined” takes place in the Japanese Laboratory JEM and requires setting up a set of four cameras called Elite, which monitor a specific volume in the module. Inside that volume, the subject performs a series of movements and the motion in three dimensions is tracked precisely by the Elite cameras, thanks to a series of reflective markers attached to the subject’s body: its’ basically little spheres, the size of a marble, with special optical properties. They clip on an adhesive strip and can therefore be applied on the skin: I had to put a number on them on the right side of my body, from the ankle to the forehead, including quite a few on the hand for the second part of the protocol, in which I had to imagine throwing a ball to a target with different force levels. In the first one, instead, I had to reach for a target in front of me, bending at the hips and the ankles, sometime with open eyes, sometimes with closed eyes.
The experiment is aimed at studying sensory-motion adaptation in space. How does your brain adapt its strategy of controlling movement and balance in this very alien condition of weightlessness?
Any understanding we gain into the functioning of the brain could help us in time in treating people with neurological disorders or injuries.
Well, the “Blind and Imagined” investigators will draw their rigorous conclusions from the data, but I certainly have fun just observing the tricks my brain plays on me. For example, when I find myself moving along, say, the ceiling, my brain thinks that that’s the floor, so when I have to turn into a side module I’m constantly tempted to make a wrong turn because my brain expects it to be on the opposite side. Or sometimes I have to make a conscious effort for a second or two to figure out where I am: is it the floor, the ceiling, a wall?
I’m sure it will all become quicker with time, or at least Butch says so.
Also, yesterday I had some great rehydrated asparagus, so far my favorite rehydrated veggie from Self-Service Restaurant Node 1!