Perception of Egocentric Distances (PED) in an analog spacesuit

This pilot study focuses on the study of the perception of egocentric distances (PED) while wearing an analogue spacesuit. PED are subjectively reported distances from an observer to a certain object. Understanding the changes in PED in different environments and how the adaptation to these environments develops is of the utmost importance. Astronauts’ performance and even safety may be put at risk if their PED deviates a lot from real distances. Common methods for obtaining estimates of PED are verbal reports and visually directed actions such as blind-walking where the observer attempts to walk without vision to the location of the previously viewed target. On Earth, and in normal conditions, blind-walking and verbal reports of PED are generally different in magnitude, but they are highly correlated. We propose to compare these well-established results with similar tests performed with subjects wearing spacesuits in the desert. We hypothesize that the environmental change (e.g. lack of landmarks, unfamiliar conditions, etc.) affects the PED. Along with this change, the reduction of free movements and limited field of view due to the use of a space suit and helmet may also influence the PED. We propose to measure the evolution of PED during the simulation time and test whether an adaptation can be noticed, i.e PED becomes closer to the real observer-object distance. Two crew members have significant expertise on the topic. They have conducted experiments to test the influence of gravity on the perception of egocentric distances, participating recently on an ESA’s parabolic flight campaign (a scientific paper is being prepared for submission).


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