Boffins suggest astronauts should build a Wall of Death on the Moon

Relax! It's for low-gravity exercise

Astronauts living on the Moon will need to maintain a strict exercise regimen to avoid physical deterioration due to the low gravity, and one proposed solution will have them bouncing off the walls to do so.

A group of Italian scientists from the University of Milan have published a paper suggesting that the best way to stay fit on the Moon isn't fancy space tech or treadmills: it's a good old-fashioned Wall of Death – minus the motorcycles and rally cars, of course.

Low gravity stresses and harms the human body in many ways, so humans living in space have performed customized exercise routines.

But those workouts may not be enough for lunar residents who'll be on the Moon for the long haul, because of factors like the gait used to run on Earth turning weird at higher speeds in lower gravity.

Using a centrifuge to simulate increased gravity isn't practical – such a machine would require lots of energy to operate, and would also be large, heavy, hard to install, and require maintenance. The alternative, according to the Italian boffins, is to let astronauts run on angled walls.

For those unfamiliar with a Wall of Death, it's a sideshow and circus trick that involves driving a car or motorcycle on a near-perpendicular wall. Doing so sees the vehicle become near-enough parallel to the floor or ground beneath it as it travels, which is possible thanks to centripetal force and friction.

To test their theory that the same design would work for humans operating under lunar gravity, the team built a 4.7-meter radius wood cylinder. A pair of volunteers were attached to bungees designed to simulate lunar gravity, and after some familiarization runs were let loose.

"Each subject completed seven trials which were then analyzed," the team observed. "In each of the trials, participants completed at least an entire circumference/lap (29.7m), starting after the end of the initial acceleration and ending before the start of the deceleration phase."

The researchers found this might actually work and be a fun way to blow off some steam after a hard shift melting Moon rocks or mining for water. Better yet, on a space-constrained lunar colony, astronauts could just run in circles around their own round quarters, the team suggested.

"A training regime of a few laps a day promises to be a viable countermeasure for astronauts to quickly combat whole-body deconditioning, for further missions and home return," the team explained. ®

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