CROM: Fighting Muscle Atrophy in Microgravity
CROM may look and sound like Iron Man’s distant cousin, but it’s actually a Florida Tech student design project designed to give astronauts the ability to use their muscles and avoid muscle atrophy without shaking up the ISS.
“The exercise equipment they use has to be heavily dampened, because it will actually shake the space station,” said Benjamin Cooley, mechanical engineering major. “If they use the bicycle for too long, it can actually begin to adjust the orbit.”
As a result, the team made up of Cooley, Jake Sheroff, Amy Gutierrez, Matthew Kraska, Charles Curt and Ikechukwu Asomugha, came up with the Continuous Resistance Orthotic for Microgravity (CROM).
“Essentially it’s going to mimic gravitational forces in order to combat muscle atrophy,” said Gutierrez, biomedical engineering major.
Made of carbon fiber, CROM is designed to apply pressure to your muscles through a series of actuators that are connected to load cells, which send information to the micro controller. Motors then move accordingly depending on the force applied. This allows an astronaut to go about their daily schedule, without having to break for regular exercise.
“You can still do other things and be working on maintaining you muscle composition and maintaining your bones,” Cooley said.