Horizons mission – Getting a good GRASP on gravity

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Unbound by a traditional up or down, ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst is getting a handle on how microgravity affects our ability to grab and manipulate objects in space. It’s all part of the French Gravitational References for Sensimotor Performance: Reaching and Grasping experiment (or GRASP) designed to give researchers a better understanding of how our brains draw information from different sources – like sight, sound, and most importantly in this case, gravity – to aid hand-eye coordination. 

This investigation will help researchers better treat disorders relating to vertigo and dizziness, balance, spatial orientation and other aspects of the vestibular system here on Earth. It will also be helpful in guiding astronauts during spacewalks and developing the most effective ways of controlling robots remotely. This is not only applicable to astronauts exploring new solar landscapes, but also surgeons who may need to operate on patients remotely and other professionals who need to operate equipment from afar. 

While our astronauts are pretty quick, in reality, GRASP experiment sessions aren't quite as speedy as what you see here. In fact, 20 minutes of real-time footage has been condensed to create this shortened clip. 

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