“Interactive Simulation: Human Motion in Microgravity” shows how an astronaut can use the law of conservation of angular momentum to self-rotate her body in microgravity. The idea for this research-based 3D visualization came from the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. We collaborated with Prof. Dava Newman on the pedagogy and conceptual design; with Prof. Leia Stirling on the mathematics of self-rotation; and with physicist Dr. Analia Barrantes of MIT's Experimental Study Group on the physics concepts. The astronaut wears the new Bio-Suit spacesuit, which has been developed at MIT. This interactive simulation was incorporated in 16.00x "Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight" and is available on MITx.
We created, rigged, and animated the 3D astronaut model in Maya and texture-mapped it in Mudbox and Maya; then built the user interface and interactions in Unity. The interactive simulation went through many an iteration, including one with a full 3D model of the International Space Station, shown below. The final version for 16.00x includes only the astronaut and a clean user interface.
Graphic art, astronaut model, textures, and additional animation by Betsy Skrip
Additional 3d modeling and Unity programming by Brian Deans-Rowe
Bio-Suit (TM) design by Guillermo Trotti, Trotti & Associates, Inc.
International Space Station 3D model by FraP/TurboSquid
We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry.- Maria Montessori