Italian astronaut Vittori Storaro is conducting an experiment on board the International Space Station. The experiment will help pilots control the plane in an emergency. The experiment dubbed VSV and the commander of Mission 11 Sergei Krikalev will help Vittori to perform it, said Victor Lyndin, a spokesman for the Mission Control Center.
"Vittori will put a non-transparent tubule over his head and will try to remain in a vertical position in zero gravity while listening only to his inner sensations," said Boris Morukov, head of department of the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies. Under normal conditions on Earth, not only eyes but a vestibular apparatus along with the muscles' and joints' receptors will keep man posted regarding the position of his body in space.
Man can only "trust" his eyes in conditions of zero gravity. The receptors of some inner organs e.g. kidney also will help man position himself in space. "An arrow indicating a vertical line is painted right before the eyes on the tubule and that arrow will be deviated periodically by Krikalev while Vittori will be telling him which way he thinks the arrow should be put back into position," said Mr. Morukov. Later the experiment will be repeated in conditions simulating Earth’s gravity. The Italian astronaut will put on special pants that will create negative pressure to make the blood rush to lower extremities. Special sensors will record the heart rate, blood pressure, and other biological data.
The experiment VSV is sponsored by the Defense Ministry of Italy. "The doctors of the Italian Air Force would like to study a sensation of zero gravity experienced by a pilot momentarily as he performs some stunts of the aerobatics," said Mr. Morukov. According to him, correct perception of a body’s position in space will help control the plane.