Sezione di

Fisiologia Umana

Laboratorio di locomozione in eterogravità

Locomotion on other planets (L.O.O.P. - E.S.A.)

Componenti: prof. A.E. Minetti, dott. G. Pavei, dott. L. Ruggiero

The cavaedium (vent shaft) is a narrow (3x3 m) and tall (17 m) space inside the Human Physiology building (Figure) where a motorized treadmill has been installed on the floor and a body suspension device hung up to a mobile pulley on the top of the cavity. The suspension device is formed by two bungee jumping rubber bands (Exploring Outdoor srl, Italy), with rest length 4 m and stiffness 92.7 N/m, linked in-series by an inextensible short cable (Gottifredi & Maffioli, Italy, Dyneema SK78, ø 4 mm, l 1.2 m) working on the top pulley. One end of the rubber band is fixed to the wall, whereas the other end is connected to a harness, where the subject is attached. The mobile pulley could be lifted or lowered by means of a suspension cable connected to a motorized winch (E.C.E., Italy, 750 W) to unload the body by the desired vertical force checked by means of a balance and a force transducer (REP Transducers, TS 300 kg, Italy) positioned in-series with the suspension cable.

The equipment provided in the LOOP:

-    Treadmill: mod. PPS 55 Ortho, Woodway

-    Motion capture system: 8 Vicon Cameras

-    Metabograph: K5 Cosmed

-    EMG: Trigno System (Delsys) with 12 sensors + 2 electrogoniometers (Biometrics) 

-    Force plate: Kistler 9423

The human physiology department has a long tradition in biomechanics of human locomotion in low-gravity. Here you can find the sixty-years scientific journey:


  • Margaria R & Cavagna GA (1964) Human locomotion in subgravity. Aerospace Med 35: 1140–1146, 1964.
  • Margaria R, Cavagna G, Saiki H (1967). Human locomotion at reduced gravity. In Life Science research and Lunar medicine, Proceedings of the 2nd Lunar international symposium. Pergamon Press, Oxford. pp 55-62.
  • Cavagna GA, Zamboni A, Faraggiana T, Margaria R (1972). Jumping on the Moon: power output at different gravity values. Aerospace Med, 43:408-414.
  • Minetti AE (1998). The biomechanics of skipping gaits: a third locomotor paradigm? Proc Biol Sci 265: 1227–1235.
  • Cavagna GA, Willems PA, Heglund NC (1998). Walking on Mars. Nature 393: 636.
  • Cavagna GA, Willems PA, Heglund NC (2000). The role of gravity in human walking: pendular energy exchange, external work and optimal speed. J Physiol 528: 657–668.
  • Minetti AE (2001). Invariant aspects of human locomotion in different gravitational environments. Acta Astronomica, 49:191–198.
  • Minetti AE (2001). Walking on other planets. Nature 409: 467–469.
  • Cavagna GA, Heglund NC, Willems PA (2005). Effect of an increase in gravity on the power output and the rebound of the body in human running. J Exp Biol, 208:2333-2346.
  • Minetti AE, Pavei G, Biancardi CM (2012). The energetics and mechanics of level and gradient skipping: preliminary results for a potential gait of choice in low gravity environments. Planet Space Sci 74: 142–145.
  • Pavei G, Biancardi CM, Minetti AE (2015). Skipping vs. running as the bipedal gait of choice in hypogravity. J Appl Physiol 119: 93–100.
  • Pavei G & Minetti AE (2016). Hopping locomotion at different gravity: metabolism and mechanics in humans. J Appl Physiol 120: 1223–1229.