Long-Arm Centrifuge (DLR)
Short-Arm Centrifuge (MEDES, Toulouse)
Human centrifuges are very important tools to study how the body reacts to hyper-G environments. Hyper-G forces along the z axis (head to toe) of the body produces a translocation of blood from the head and torso down into the lower body. This results in decreases in mental capacity and if great enought a G-induced temporary loss of consciousness (GLOC). Think of fighter pilots pulling through a sharp turn or a steep climb. As it turns out, a human centrifuge is also a great way to study why astronauts are prone to passing out when they return from the Interntational Space Station.
Two types of centrifuges are commonly used for human reasearch. In long-arm centrifuges (pictured above left), the test participant sits in a gondola at the end of a long arm. In this case the G forces are similar along the z axis of the test participant. In short-arm centrifuges (pictured above right), the test participant's head is at or close to the centre of rotation with the feet further out. In this case the G forces are greater at the feet than the head. As the centrifuges spin up, the participants in either type of centrifuge feel increasing G-loads, forcing blood away from the upper body and into the lower body.
Click here to view past human centrifuge projects with the Aerospace Physiology Laboratory.