Human Estimation of Slope, Distance, and Height of Terrain in Simulated Lunar Conditions
MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE DEPT OF AERONAUTICS AND ASTRONAUTICS
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As NASAs Vision for Space Exploration seeks to explore mountainous regions near the southern pole, astronauts will require accurate navigational assistance. Current and future technology will likely be available however, the humans own perception of the terrain may affect their confidence in these instruments and be necessary during emergency situations. These unique lunar conditions are expected to affect human perception the lack of an atmosphere, the non-Lambertian regolith reflectance properties, the lack of familiar objects, and the physiological effects of reduced gravity. This project examines the inherent errors humans make when judging the slope, distance, and height of terrain, both on the Earth in a lunar-like environment and on the Moon using photographs from the Apollo missions. Five experiments were conducted in field and Virtual Reality VR environments. The effects of true slope, true distance, and sun elevation on slope estimates were determined using visual and motor responses in a lunar-like Utah environment and reproduced in a VR environment using synoptically viewed images in two body positions, under normal and lunar Gz loading conditions. The effects of true slope, distance, and body position on slope, distance, and height estimates of synoptically viewed Apollo panoramic images were measured and compared to measurements obtained from topographical maps. Systematic and random errors were determined for all estimates. Slope estimate comparisons were made between lunar-like and lunar terrain and also between lunar hills and craters. Slope was significantly overestimated in the field study. were significantly greater at lower sun elevations and closer distances in the Lunar-like VR Study. Lunar distance estimates varied largely and slope estimation errors were significantly greater for craters than for hills. A new relationship between hill shape and perceived steepness was also discovered.
- Anatomy and Physiology