In 2012, Gideon Ariel, the inventor of the Ariel Performance Analysis System won the International Society of Biomechanics in Sports, Geoffey Dyson Award. The award is the most prestigious given by the International Society of Biomechanics. I was mentored by Dr. Ariel in 1989. Truly he is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. I will post many of his amazing success stories here to encourage you to get to know the Ariel Performance Analysis System. I think most people will be surprised at how well this system has done over the years and how easy it is to use. You can download and try the system here.
Here is the first post from Dr. Ariel’s site www.arielnet.com
The Discus Thrower and his Dream Factory
Chapter 16. The NASA Connection
Present from Astronaut Thornton The Ariel Exercise Machine on the KC-135 0-Gravity flight
My first association with NASA was when I met Captain James Lovell. Captain Lovell was selected as an Astronaut by NASA in September 1962. He has since served as backup pilot for the Gemini 4 flight and backup Commander for the Gemini 9 flight, as well as backup Commander to Neil Armstrong for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission.
On December 4, 1965, he and Frank Borman were launched into space on the history-making Gemini 7 mission. The flight lasted 330 hours and 35 minutes and included the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft.
The Gemini 12 mission, commanded by Lovell with Pilot Edwin Aldrin, began on November 11, 1966. This 4-day, 59-revolution flight brought the Gemini program to a successful close. Lovell served as Command Module Pilot and Navigator on the epic six-day journey of Apollo 8 – man’s maiden voyage to the moon – December 21-27, 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to be lifted into near-earth orbit by a 7-1/2 million pound thrust Saturn V launch vehicle; and Lovell and fellow crewmen, Frank Borman and William A. Anders, became the first humans to leave the Earth’s gravitational influence.
He completed his fourth mission as Spacecraft Commander of the Apollo 13 flight, April 11-17, 1970, and became the first man to journey twice to the moon.
I have met Captain James Lovell while serving with him on the Scientific Committee of the Health and Tennis Corporation of America in 1973.
The Health and Tennis corporation of America was the largest Health Club chain center in the USA and probably in the World. Leading World scientists in the field of human performance such as Bruno Balke the pioneer in using lactic acid as an indicator of fitness level, Dr. Frank Katch, a leading Physiologist and nutritionist; Dr. Thomas Cureton one of the most known Exercise Physiologist, and others serve with me on this committee.
As a member of this committee I had numerous discussions with Captain Lovell about how to prepare astronauts fitness for the space mission. The lack of gravity and its effect of the bone structure was a main consideration at NASA. I have told Captain Lovell about my Computerized machine which I was developing in the University of Massachusetts and that it was gravity independent. Also, I showed him in one of our meeting, my Motion Analysis system and how it could be used to analyze Astronauts in Motion in space. He expressed to me how such a system could be used in NASA for many purposes. The First Astronaut to visit with me in my Laboratory in Coto De Caza was Gordon Cooper
Seating beside the Astronaut Gordon Cooper with the Pilot Bo Friedman and Tennis Pro Vic Braden
Leroy Gordon Cooper, Jr., (March 6, 1927 – October 4, 2004) was an engineer and Gordo Cooper, also known as American astronaut. Cooper was one of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury, the first manned space effort by the United States. He was the first American to sleep in orbit, had flown the longest spaceflight of the Mercury project, and was the last American to be launched alone into Earth orbit and conduct an entire solo orbital mission.
Apparently, he passed the word about my technology and not long after that I had a call from two other Famous Astronauts. Astrounaut Dave Walker and Dr. William Thornton.
Dr. Thornton was a member of the astronaut support crew for the Skylab 2, 3, and 4 missions, and principal investigator for Skylab experiments on mass measurement, anthropometric measurements, hemodynamics, and human fluid shifts and physical conditioning. He first documented the shift and loss of fluid changes in body posture size and shape, including increase in height and the rapid loss of muscle strength and mass in space flight.
As a member of the Astronaut Office Operations Missions Development group, Dr. Thornton was responsible for developing crew procedures and techniques for deployable payloads, and for maintenance of crew conditions in flight. He developed advanced techniques for, and made studies in, kinesiology and kinesimetry related to space operations.
During Space Shuttle operations he continued physiological investigations in the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal and neurological areas. He developed the Shuttle treadmill for in-flight exercise and several other on-board devices. His work concentrated on the space adaptation syndrome, with relevant investigations on STS-4, STS-5, STS-6, STS-7, and STS-8.
Dr. Thornton holds more than 35 issued patents that range from military weapons systems through the first real-time EKG computer analysis. Space-related items include the first in-flight mass measurement devices, shock and vibration isolation systems, an improved waste collection system, an improved lower body negative pressure (LBNP) apparatus, and others.
A veteran of two space flights, Dr. Thornton has logged over 313 hours in space. He served as a mission specialist on STS-8 in 1983, and STS-51B in 1985.
Dave was extremely interested in our system and saw a tremendous resource research tool for NASA. Unfortunately, Dave our good friend died in 2001. He was only 56 Years old.
Both asked to arrange a meeting with me in my new laboratory at Coto De Caza. (I will discuss in detail this great laboratory in the next Chapter).
Dr. Thornton greeted me with a special pluck of his mission to space which was the first night mission to space.
I sent him a thank you letter as follows:
The text read:
Dr.: William Thornton
April 16, 1984
Dear Dr. Thornton:
Thank you for the wonderful, unique memento of your spectacular experience in Space which you sent. Ann and I are very excited and feel privileged to work with NASA and you on the various aspects of biomechanical characteristics and on the exercise program.
I recently talked with Dave Walker and Tom Moore and learned that you will be ordering a Computerized Exercise Machine in the near future. At the time your System arrives in Houston, I will come to stay with you for a few days and to cover the installation procedures as well as the necessary education to assist you in maximizing this unique technology. I can arrange my time at your convenience since I can imagine the demands made on your valuable time.
In addition, after talking with Tom, I suggest the following biomechanical experiments for your consideration:
1.Comparison of normal running on the track with running on the treadmill with the “budgies” support.
2.Comparison of the Space Mission cinematograpical data of running with the “bungies” with the same experimental procedures at 1.
3.Comparison of going up-and down the Shuttle stairs before and immediately after the mission. This will allow quantification of the loss of balance and changes in locomotion.
4.Establishing exorcise and conditioning criteria for the astronauts utilizing the Computerized Exercise Machine.
5.Establishing fitness levels and training protocols for the astronauts. These are, of course, only suggestions and I would enjoy meeting with you and your staff to discuss these or other ideas.
Again, thank you very much for the wonderful gift.
Gideon Ariel, Ph.D. President
Dr. Moore and Bob Wainright at the Space Station Jeremy Wise at the Space Station
Dr. Thornton and Dave Walker met with me in my research Laboratory at Coto De Caza. They presented to me a very significant problem that they had in NASA. Apparently, NASA and the Russian Space Authority had an agreement of sharing research together. Both organization would record space missions and exchange 16mm film shown the various functions at the mission capsules.
In both cases, one of the activities was running on a treadmill as an exercise. The American NASA treadmill was designed and built by the Astronaut William Thornton which was meeting with me with the Astronaut Dave Walker.
One of the serious problem hat Dr. Thornton was facing was that the American Astronauts always had to use their hands to hold the handle bar in order to maintain upward position. Since the capsule was in space experience close to Zero Gravity, you had to connect yourself to the treadmill with bungees cords. If the American Astronauts did not support themselves with holding the front handle bar, they would rotate while running and losing balance. However, to all surprise, the Russians were able to run without holding the front handle bars. In fact they did not need handles at all.
The following figure shows the original pencil drawing of the schematic of the Astronauts running on the treadmill and a real photograph of one of the astronaut running on the Treadmill.
When we digitized the motion from the supplied film we got multiple of figures as in the following:
One digitized frame on the treadmill with bungee cords
With the Ariel Performance Analysis System (APAS) we could measure all the kinematics and Kinetics parameters. This resulted in the following first experiment for NASA by ADI Inc.
In Fact, this was the first biomechanical experiment in space. The idea was to compare running on the ground with running in space. This will show us what the mechanical differences and will throw light on the reason why the Russians Astronauts are so advance to the American Astounds and do not need to use their hands and arms to balance their run on the treadmill in space. We had the original data for the Americans and the Russian Astronauts supplied by NASA.
BIOMECHANICAL COMPARISON OF TREADMILL RUNNING IN SPACE TO NORMAL GRAVITY CONDITIONS
The present study is the first of its kind to compare the performance of four subjects (astronauts) running on a treadmill in a zero-gravity environment (Space) to the same subjects running in the normal gravitational environment of earth.
Phase I data collection was during the STS7 and STS-3 Space Shuttle missions using a special on-board camera at 24 frames per second. The treadmill running activity was recorded from two different perspectives – front and side. Each astronaut wore a specially designed harness connected to the treadmill with “bungee” (elastic cords) to provide vertical reaction forces and assist the subject in returning to the treadmill after each stride. A handrail attached to the treadmill contributed to stabilization and comfort. Phase II will duplicate the exercise tests and data collection on earth using the same four astronauts and the same treadmill with the bungies eliminated. In addition, running on normal ground surface will also be filmed. It is expected that the comparison will determine the similarities and differences in running performances in order to facilitate sufficient and appropriate exercise/aerobic training in Space.
A biomechanical analysis will subsequently performed on the Space film sequences with the same procedures to be applied to those obtained on earth. The technique begins with each frame being projected onto a digitizing screen and the location of each body joint (foot, ankle, knee, hip, shoulders, elbow, wrist and hand) accurately measured and saved under computer control. A proprietary transformation and kinematic analysis is performed on the digitized data to yield true image space joint displacement, velocity, and acceleration information. This information is then used to perform a kinetic analysis in order to determine the dynamic forces and moments acting on the subjects during the running activity. Bungie reaction forces were included in ‘these calculations for the Space sequences.
WORK STATEMENT: Film sequences of the running motions of the four astronauts will be performed in Houston on the treadmill and on normal ground surface. Data collection will be made at the convenience of the subjects. Biomechanical analysis and data quantification will be performed at the Coto Research Center in California.
Thomas P. Moore, M.D. William E. Thornton, M.D.
INVESTIGATORS: Gideon B. Ariel, Ph.D. M. Ann Penny, Ph.D.
The parameters to be measured can be shown in the following figures. Of course, the detail of this study is beyond the scope of this book. However, I wanted to point out the first study among many others that we performed for NASA.
Our study was very successful and lead to amazing finding.
While Ann was digitizing the film for hundreds of hours we actually notice that the Russians astronauts did not use the Handle bars. It was very surprising since the bunggi cords looked very similar attached to the body.
Our Biomechanical Analysis could not reveal what the Russians doing different and from their body’s angle and movement of the legs, according to our calculations in Zero gravity the forces should tilt them backward. But it did not. Why?. We struggle with these questions for weeks.
One afternoon, while Ann digitizing the images on the digitizer screen I have noticed a little dot moving down. Looking on it more carfully it seems that it was a drop of sweat detached from the Russian Astronaut. Immediately, I asked Ann to digitize this sweat droplet. “Are you crazy, Gideon, to digitize a sweat?” Ann comment at me. “Yes, I want to see what the acceleration measured on this sweat drop”.
Well, amazing! The acceleration was measured 9.8 Meter per second per second. This means the sweat drop is dropping at gravitational acceleration! The Russians send us film as if they run in Zero gravity, but actually they run at 1G. On the ground, not in space!
This finding was amazing and in NASA they requested and made us sign a none disclosure document not to reveal this information. It was better to know that the Russians cheating us than to let them know that we know that they are cheating us.
After some time later on, this information become known. On the Biomechanics Society Net list the following message was published:
From: “Dr. Chris Kirtley” <kirtley@CUA.EDU>
Subject: Science Quiz: summary & solution
Date: Monday, May 14, 2001 8:54 AM
Thanks (?) to all the sour grapes who are still griping about the quiz
answer. At the risk of re-starting the Cold War, I hope our Russian
biomechanists will forgive this message from Gideon Ariel, which I think
provides an appropriate codicil…
Very nice. But I must tell you a story about the Tears in space.
In 1979 my company was hired by NASA to conduct a research analyzing
Running on a treadmill. This was the year where the USA and the USSR signed an agreement to collaborate in space research. At that time they both used
16 mm film, collecting film data in space on the Astronauts running on the
treadmill. This was the first biomechanical study in space !!!
The question to answer was, why the Russians using only bungee cords
around their hips and do not need to have hand support, and the
Americans using the bungee cords around the hips but must gain support with their hand on a handlebar built into the treadmill. From biomechanical point of view it did not make sense. If you have only have bungee cords around the
Center of mass, by propelling the legs on the treadmill it will created moment which will twist the body backward. Did the Russians calculated the CM
And attuched the cords just little higher or lower??? Well the Russians seems to do it with no problems. We digitized 25 sequences and the finding show that the Russians did not need to counter the backward moment. Why ??? Why??? We went crazy and the scientists in NASA went crazy.
On repeating the digitizing procedure, one of my scientist Dr. Ann
Penny noticed a tear or a sweat going off the body of one of the Russian
Astronauts. I told her to digitize this “tear” or “sweat” drop. And
Guess what??? It exhibit acceleration at 9.8 meters/second/second.
Obviously the experiment by the Russians was conducted on Earth……
They sent a misleading film…. This was kept in secrete until 1995.
In anyway, this is in reference to the tears that you mention in your
And this was the first Biomechanical Study in space.