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Rodolfo Margaria and the First Walk on the Moon

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INTRODUCTION: During the Cold War years, the Space Race was largely supported by the efforts of many engineers and scientists, in particular human physiologists. Rodolfo Margaria (1901–1983), director of the Institute of Human Physiology at the University of Milan, was one of the most eminent and focused his studies on the mechanics of human locomotion in subgravity, in particular on the Moon’s surface. Long before the real Moon landing, Margaria was able to correctly theorize how astronauts would walk on lunar soil, what would be the optimal pattern of progression, as well as determine the optimum and maximum speed at one-sixth of the Earth's gravity. On 21st July 1969 at 02:56 UTC, great excitement was aroused by the television images of Neil Armstrong's first steps on the Moon. Instead of walking, he moved around making small leaps, as expected from Margaria and colleagues.

Grasso GS, Beretta EP, Miserocchi GA, Riva MA. Rodolfo Margaria and the first walk on the Moon. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2019; 90(11):982–985.

Keywords: aerospace medicine; physiology; subgravity locomotion

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2019

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

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