From Carnival Thrill Ride to Potential Lunar Workout? The ‘Wall of Death’ May Help Astronauts Stay Fit on the Moon

You’ve probably seen daredevil motorcycle riders somersaulting inside a large wooden cylinder at a fair or carnival – it’s called the “Wall of Death.” But this thrill ride concept could have an important second life as exercise equipment to help astronauts stay in shape while living and working on the Moon’s low-gravity environment.

The challenge is that reduced gravity makes it easier to move around, which can lead to muscle loss and decreased bone density over time. While running is recommended to counter this, traditional running on a treadmill doesn’t quite cut it in lunar gravity, which is one-sixth as strong as Earth’s.

An intriguing solution comes from Alberto Minetti, a physiology professor at the University of Milan. His idea? Adapt the Wall of Death concept into a specialized exercise rig for astronauts on the Moon.

Minetti’s team calculated that at lunar gravity, a person would only need to run at around 8 mph to generate enough centrifugal force to run along the vertical walls of a circular track. To test it out, they suspended researchers in bungee rigs inside an actual 36-meter Wide Wall of Death setup, simulating lunar gravity.

Aldrin Apollo 11, Credit: Wikimedia/Neil A. Armstrong

The results were promising. Running for just a couple minutes twice per day seemed sufficient to prevent muscle and bone deterioration, since the lateral forces during the run essentially create artificial gravity loading on the body.

As NASA aims to return humans to the lunar surface through the Artemis program by 2026, creative exercise solutions like this could prove vital for protecting astronaut health during extended Moon stays.

 Who knew a classic carnival attraction could inspire cutting-edge space fitness tech?

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