“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, developed by Prof. Newman's research group. This interactive simulation was incorporated in 16.00x "Introduction to Aerospace Engineering: Astronautics and Human Spaceflight" and is available online.


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.

Concept art, animation, game development, produced and directed by Violeta Ivanova
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