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Holding my arm inside a pressurized box I attempt to make a simple gesture with my index finger. The stiffness surrounding my skin restricts the movement. I push hard against it to overcome the 0.6 bar inside the perspex box. Turning my wrist. Opening my palm. Wiggling my fingers. Trying to reach out and grab some non-existing objects. I mimic all the moves that creators of this equipment trained before (they are all well documented on the panel behind my head). The Orlan glove feels like a small machinery, much more voluminous and overwhelming than it actually is. I hear a question coming from behind me, which is directed at the team of scientists:
-And where did the glove itself come from?
The exoskeleton design for an EVA glove is only one of many projects that clever people from Centre for Space Human Robotics (at Italian Institute of Technology) are working on. Their work span covers activities within disciplines of Robotics (which includes prototypes for Human Gesture Recognition that is another branch, next to the smart EVA glove, which might be of interest to our team in the future) Smart Materials and Energy. Visiting their outstanding facilities and learning about some extraordinary work performed in their labs might not be an usual, everyday task of an intern, but it is one that will certainly remain in my memory (not even mentioning the crucial involvement of Italian coffee and delicious pasta in this experience). Before we managed to share the road to Italy however, there were other jobs that had to be taken care of. What do spacesuits, balloons, bunch of kids and an Olé song all have in common? An OeWF outreach event. It is surprising how easily one can speak to the kids without knowing the language (yes, learning German is still on one of my to-do-in-the-future task lists). We have managed to put smiles on some 300 pupils of an elementary school in SolarCity (Linz), thanks to spacesuit trials, rover control, meteorite shooting, weighting (on different planets), bottle rockets launching, ‘smelling’ the universe and inspiring talks by Dr. G. Groemer (and a few boxes of chocolate maybe).
After that I guess it is back to an average workday regime: reviewing publications for prestigious Astrobiology magazine (there is a special edition coming up so keep your eyes out for that one!), organizing events for the World Space Week, improving the knowledge of spacesuit design and operation, which every common man should have..
First week’s status: accomplished. Bring on the next one.
By Agnieszka Sekula
- 23.05.2019 - 01.09.2019: Exhibition: Austria in Space – a country takes off!
- 16.07.2019 - 25.07.2019: Summer School Alpbach 2019
- 26.09.2019 - 27.09.2019: Deutsche Astrobiologie Gesellschaft - 4th annual workshop
- 04.11.2019 - 06.11.2019: European Mars Conference
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