Human disorientation as a factor in spacecraft centrifuge design
Howse, Christopher E.
Whitmore, Stephen A.
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Weightlessness is the major contributing factor behind the degradation of bone mass, muscle tone, and aerobic capacity during long-term space missions. With the loss of bone mass progressing at up to two percent per month, long duration and interplanetary missions shall remain the sole duty of robotic explorers until sufficient countermeasures are developed. Several countermeasures are either in use, or under development to alleviate this problem. Exercise is currently used to reduce the severity of bone loss and muscle atrophy. Exercise has proven ineffective despite the fact two hours of daily exercise together with elaborate apparatus have been devoted to simulating the load of Earth's gravity. Drug therapy and other, more exotic, countermeasures are also under consideration, but the side-effects of these other treatments and the fact that they do not directly address the root cause of the negative effects of weightlessness means that they may only reduce, not cure, those problems. Only artificial gravity addresses the root cause, weightlessness itself. This thesis addresses the need to balance the effects of Coriolis on human disorientation with the engineering costs of constructing a centrifuge for human occupation in space.
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