Electrical Shock Hazard Severity Estimation During Extravehicular Activity for the International Space Station

Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2021 Apr 1;92(4):231-239. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.5702.2021.


INTRODUCTION: Research has shown that astronauts performing extravehicular activities may be exposed, under certain conditions, to undesired electrical hazards. This study used computer models to determine whether these undesired induced electrical currents could be responsible for involuntary neuromuscular activity caused by either large diameter peripheral nerve activation or reflex activity from cutaneous afferent stimulation.METHODS: A multiresolution variant of the admittance method along with a magnetic resonance image millimeter resolution model of a male human body were used to calculate the following: 1) induced electric fields; 2) resistance between contact areas in a Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit; 3) currents induced in the human body; 4) the physiological effects of these electrical exposures; and 5) the risk to the crew during extravehicular activities.RESULTS: Using typical EMU shock exposure conditions, with a 15V source, the current density magnitudes and total current injected are well above previously reported startle reaction thresholds. This indicates that, under the considered conditions during a spacewalk in the charged ionospheric plasma of space, astronauts could experience possibly harmful involuntary motor response and sensory pain nerve activation.Hamilton DR. Electrical shock hazard severity estimation during extravehicular activity for the International Space Station. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2021; 92(4):231239.

MeSH terms

  • Astronauts
  • Computer Simulation
  • Extravehicular Activity / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Space Flight*
  • Space Suits* / adverse effects