SMUG: Self Motion Under Varying Gravity States

The prime objective of the SMUG (self-motion under gravity) project is to understand how gravity, and in particular microgravity, affects human self-motion perception. These experiments will assess the effectiveness of visual cues to motion in brief periods of microgravity created using parabolic flight and enable the generation of a model of how microgravity affects the processing of optic flow information to evoke self-motion.

Activities / Methods
Experiments will be conducted during parabolic flight. We plan to conduct two experiments during the zero-g-periods which are related to each other. Subjects will be loosely tethered to the floor, lying supine and wearing a completely self-supporting head-mounted display (HMD). All our visual cues will be presented on the smartphone inside the HMD.

In both experiments participants will view a simulated corridor. In the first experiment there will be a simulation of a target within this corridor presented at one of three simulated distances. After the target is extinguished, participants will be virtually moved down the corridor. Their task is to indicate when they arrived at the position of the previously shown target. In the second experiment participants are first virtually moved down the corridor and then asked to adjust the distance of a virtual target.


  • Centre for Vision Research, York University, Toronto, Canada:
    Prof. L. R. Harris and Prof. M. Jenkin
  • DLR – German Aerospace Centre

Press Release