Next Article in Journal
Simulations of Prebiotic Chemistry under Post-Impact Conditions on Titan
Next Article in Special Issue
On the Response of Halophilic Archaea to Space Conditions
Previous Article in Journal
Horizontal Gene Transfer and Its Part in the Reorganisation of Genetics during the LUCA Epoch
Life 2013, 3(4), 524-537; doi:10.3390/life3040524

Distance and Size Perception in Astronauts during Long-Duration Spaceflight

1,* , 2
1 International Space University, Parc d'Innovation, 1 rue Jean-Dominique Cassini, Illkirch-Graffenstaden F-67400, France 2 AnthroTronix, Inc., 8737 Colesville Road, Suite L203, Silver Spring, MD 20910, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 7 November 2013 / Revised: 3 December 2013 / Accepted: 9 December 2013 / Published: 13 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Response of Terrestrial Life to Space Conditions)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [226 KB, uploaded 13 December 2013]   |   Browse Figures


Exposure to microgravity during spaceflight is known to elicit orientation illusions, errors in sensory localization, postural imbalance, changes in vestibulo-spinal and vestibulo-ocular reflexes, and space motion sickness. The objective of this experiment was to investigate whether an alteration in cognitive visual-spatial processing, such as the perception of distance and size of objects, is also taking place during prolonged exposure to microgravity. Our results show that astronauts on board the International Space Station exhibit biases in the perception of their environment. Objects’ heights and depths were perceived as taller and shallower, respectively, and distances were generally underestimated in orbit compared to Earth. These changes may occur because the perspective cues for depth are less salient in microgravity or the eye-height scaling of size is different when an observer is not standing on the ground. This finding has operational implications for human space exploration missions.
Keywords: human visual perception; gravity; mental representation; distance perception human visual perception; gravity; mental representation; distance perception
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Share & Cite This Article

Further Mendeley | CiteULike
Export to BibTeX |
MDPI and ACS Style

Clément, G.; Skinner, A.; Lathan, C. Distance and Size Perception in Astronauts during Long-Duration Spaceflight. Life 2013, 3, 524-537.

View more citation formats

Related Articles

Article Metrics

For more information on the journal, click here


Cited By

[Return to top]
Life EISSN 2075-1729 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert