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空客A310的零重力飞行体验

更新时间:2018-3-4 10:45:10 来源:千亿千亿国际娱乐官网 作者:佚名

The flight that brings space weightlessness to Earth
空客A310的零重力飞行体验

“Five, four, three, two, one…”

"5、4、3、2、1…"

Not many aircraft captains give their passengers a rocket launch-style countdown before take-off, but this is no ordinary plane. For starters, everyone on board, apart from the crew, is a scientist and has passed a full medical check – including a heart assessment. This is not a trip for nervous fliers.

没有飞机机长会在起飞前给乘客倒计时,但这并非一架普通的飞机。除机组人员外,这架飞机的所有乘员都是科学家。他们已经通过了包括心脏检查在内的全面体检。这不是为普通乘客服务的航班。

“Pull up. Thirty, 40…”

"拉起!30度、40度……"

The captain’s instructions refer to a manoeuvre so challenging it requires three pilots to be in the cockpit. The aircraft pulls up from a level flight into an incline at increasingly steep angles of 30, then 40 degrees.

此时,飞机正在做一项复杂而危险的飞行动作,需要驾驶舱内的三名飞行员通力合作才能完成。飞机从平飞状态迅速拉起,爬升角度不断增大,30度,然后40度。

In the middle section, where the windows are blocked by a padded wall, everyone is either standing, sitting on the floor or lying down because the seats in this Airbus A310 have all been removed.

在这架空客A310的客舱,所有座椅都被拆除,舱内墙壁装设衬垫遮蔽了所有窗户,乘客们不是站着,就是或坐或躺在地上。

Several scientists are wearing caps covered in electrodes. Others, weirdly, have their arms inside open-ended boxes, and they appear to have three hands (more on this later). Many are staring intently at washing machine-sized metal contraptions with switches and screens. I am lying on an area of floor cordoned off by netting.

有几位科学家戴着附有电极的帽子。另外一位科学家则把双手放在一个怪异的盒子里,好像他有三只手(后文有详细说明)。好几位科学家紧盯着洗衣机大小、上面遍布开关和屏幕的金属控制柜。我则躺在机舱内被网布隔开的一小块地板上。

Everyone is perfectly still because it feels as if a weight is pressing down, harder and harder, on every part of our bodies. Fortunately, in a few seconds, we will all experience something extraordinary.

随着超重越来越强,所有人的身体各部位都受到巨大压力,每个人被牢牢压在座椅上。幸好,我们在几秒钟后就将体验到截然不同的感受。

“… 50. Injection.”

"…50度,发射。"

At 50 degrees the magic begins. The plane is injected into a parabolic arc. The noise level suddenly drops and the tone of the engine shifts higher as the aircraft free falls up and over the top of the arc. My body’s heaviness, increased by gravitational forces of 1.8G on the way up so it felt almost twice its normal weight, disappears. I am being drawn inexplicably upwards. Weightless.

爬升角度增加到了50°,魔术开始了。飞机此时进入一条抛物线轨迹,飞机在惯性作用下到达抛物线顶点,此时机舱内的噪声突然减弱,发动机噪声则变得尖锐。爬升过程中,飞机处于1.8G超重状态,我自己的体重则达到了平时的两倍。而抛物线的顶点过后,我感觉体重消失了,我的身体被一股神奇的力量带离机舱地板。这就是失重。

It is a wonderful, liberating sensation and for 20 brief seconds, while someone less fortunate at the back of the plane grapples with a sick bag, I am floating. And I absolutely love it.

这是美妙而自由的20秒。有些不走运的家伙痛苦地坐在飞机后部,手中紧握呕吐袋。我则在机舱内自由漂浮,这是一种非常美妙的体验。

Everyone onboard is experiencing microgravity, which is what astronauts encounter on the International Space Station (ISS). This zero G (zero gravity) aircraft, owned by Novespace, is the latest one used by the European Space Agency (Esa) to perform science experiments in microgravity and, to a lesser extent, astronaut training. Even in space, minute amounts of gravitational force remain because it is always present between two objects that have mass. So, technically microgravity is the more precise term for this experience, but zero G is catchier.

此时,机上每个人都体验到了微重力,这种感觉和千亿国际娱乐空间站(International Space Station, ISS)上的宇航员并无二致。欧洲航天局(European Space Agency, Esa)租用了Novespace公司的零重力飞机,主要用于微重力科学实验,有时候也用于宇航员训练。即便在太空中,宇航员也会受到微小重力的作用,这是由于两个物体之间永远存在万有引力的缘故。因而,微重力这一词汇能够更加准确地描述这种环境,而零重力则是为了吸引眼球的一个不严谨词语。

“We have 12 experiments on board,” explains Esa parabolic flight coordinator Neil Melville, as he walks me along the plane before our flight. “This one is testing gyroscopic actuators,” he says, pointing to a netted area containing tiny box-shaped satellites or cubesats. “They will use a satellite to track a ball in zero G.”

"我们要在飞机上做12项实验,"登机前,欧洲航天局微重力飞行协调官尼尔·麦尔维尔(Neil Melville)告诉我。"这项实验是为了测试陀螺仪执行器,"他指着一个被网布隔开的,摆满了盒子大小的微小卫星的区域说。"他们用卫星跟踪零重力环境下的球体运动。"

He wanders along to the next group of scientists surrounding a metal box. “This experiment is all done inside a combustion chamber looking at flame propagation in zero gravity.”

他接着走向另一群科学家,他们正围着一个金属箱坐着。"这项实验是为了研究零重力下,火焰在燃烧室中的扩散规律。"

Another experiment involves a heat pump device that will eventually fly on the ISS. Melville leads me to another group. “This is testing the weak equivalence principle. Nothing less than Einsteinian science.”

另一项实验是为了研发一种将在千亿国际娱乐空间站上使用的热能泵。麦尔维尔带我走向另一个小组。"这是为了检验弱等效原理——爱因斯坦广义相对论中的一个假设。"

The people with three hands are performing something known as the rubber hand illusion. If an artist’s paintbrush is used to stroke a realistic but fake hand beside your own real hand, the brain mistakenly thinks that the fake one is part of your body. The experiment is being done in microgravity to see if it changes this perception and the associated sensations.

三只手的科学家正在进行"橡胶手错觉"实验。如果在你真正的手旁边放上一只仿真的假手,然后用画笔同时轻刷你的手和假手,一段时候之后大脑就会错误地认为假手是你身体的一部分。在微重力环境下进行这一实验的目的在于检验微重力是否会改变这种感受及相关感觉。

“The whole of the parabolic arc takes one minute including the 20 seconds of weightlessness,” says Melville. “But the plane does 31 parabolas. One every three minutes so it adds up to just over 10 minutes of microgravity for the experiments.”

"整段抛物线飞行只持续1分钟,其中包括20秒的失重,"麦尔维尔说。"但是飞机每次飞行都会做31次抛物线,每3分钟做一次,因此能够提供总计10分钟的微重力实验时间。"

Not surprisingly, passengers are given motion sickness medication before the flight but several unfortunate scientists still succumb to the repeated stomach-lurching parabolas. Some adapt to the experience within a few arcs; others, as on my flight, were in a bad state from parabola one with several nauseous hours ahead until they could return to Earth. There are no toilets on board either “but the medication dries you out”, I am told.

尽管乘客们在登机前都服用了抗晕机药物,但是仍然有几位不走运的科学家出现了晕机呕吐症状。有些人在几次抛物线飞行后就适应了失重环境,而有些人则在第一次抛物线飞行后就出现恶心呕吐症状,一直到持续到飞行结束。飞行前,机长告诉我,飞机上没有卫生间,"你吃了药就不会想去厕所。"

“By far the biggest contribution to motion sickness is anxiety,” says Melville. “If you’re chilled out you’ll be fine.”

"其实导致晕机的最大原因是精神紧张,"麦尔维尔说。"如果保持心情镇定就不会晕机。"

Most people, find the somewhat bumpy transition from 2G to normal at the end of the flight the most uncomfortable part, and on average about two people are sick per flight.

大多数人认为,在飞行即将结束时,从2G过载恢复的正常状态是最难受的,每次飞行平均会有2人晕机。

The majority of scientists, however, can cope with these unusual work conditions. Cuddly toys as mascots are hung from string on or near their experiments ready to float during weightlessness. Floor straps for feet and legs help maintain control in an upright position during the ‘action’ and prevent anyone drifting upwards into a dangerous position. “When zero G stops,” Melville warns, “you don’t want to fall onto an experiment and break it.”

大多数科学家都能应对这一特殊工作环境。他们在实验装置上系上吉祥物等玩具,在失重条件下这些玩具就会漂浮起来。地板上的下肢固定带可以帮助乘员在失重条件下操作实验时保持身体直立,防止身体漂向一个危险的方向。"否则,一旦零重力状态结束,你就会砸到实验设备上。"

Six of the 12 experiments are part of Esa’s Flying Thesis programme. Student Timo Klein, from the German Sport University and the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia, is part of an experiment examining the brain’s performance and linking it to blood flow velocity.

在总共12项实验中,有6项都属于欧洲航天局的"飞行论文"计划。德国体育大学(German Sport University)和澳大利亚阳光海岸大学(University of the Sunshine Coast)的学生提摩·克莱恩(Timo Klein)参与了研究大脑活动与血液流速之间关系的实验。

Klein is wearing a cap covered in electrodes to measure his brain’s activity while he and two others react to audio signals, use a keyboard, and solve a mathematical equation during the 20-second periods of microgravity. “It’s not a difficult equation but under the pressure of time it becomes a difficult cognitive performance task.”

克莱恩戴着一个帽子,帽子上的电极可以监控他大脑的活动。与此同时他和另外两名受试者在20秒微重力过程中根据音响信号操作键盘,同时解数学方程。"方程不难,但在时间压力下,它的难度会大大提高,从而考验你的认知能力。"

Physical fitness is important for astronauts but so is brain fitness and there are potential effects to consider from being in microgravity and also in isolation for longer durations.

对于宇航员而言,身体和大脑健康一样重要,必须考虑微重力条件下长期与世隔绝对宇航员身心健康的影响。

“Long-term isolation can reduce cognitive performance but it has also been shown that during microgravity cognitive performance is increased,” says Klein. “We are interested in the mechanisms behind that. Brain flow is increased in microgravity so we are looking at the link between them.”

"长期与世隔绝会导致认知能力下降,但是,微重力环境会让认知能力有所提升,"克莱因说。"我们对背后的机制很感兴趣。微重力环境下大脑运转速度会加快,我们想深入了解其中的联系。"

As well as gaining a greater understanding of an astronaut’s performance in space, this knowledge has potential applications for designing better ways to help those with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

除了更深入了解宇航员的太空行为外,这一发现还有助于研发阿兹海默症(或老年痴呆症)的治疗方案。

For the final five parabolas the free-flight area, where I floated several times towards the ceiling, is off limits. The netting is removed because the German Mars Society is about to release a big shiny balloon. At least that is what it resembles when they test a deployment system for an inflatable space structure.

在最后五次抛物线飞行中,我漂浮到了天花板上。这几次抛物线飞行属于无限制飞行。机舱内的网布被拆除,德国火星协会(German Mars Society)计划释放一个大型银色气球,从而测试未来的充气式太空舱释放装置。

It is a wonder to watch. Once weightlessness kicks in on a parabolic arc, the tightly packed inflatable is shot out of a cylinder and a mass of concertina-style folded gold fabric fans unfurls into the air.

这项实验非常有趣。抛物线后半段进入失重状态后,从一个气缸中射出了原本紧紧折叠起来的气球,与此同时,一个形似手风琴,黄金织物做成的扇子自动伸展开启。

It works first time and the experiment provides invaluable information for a future mission. “No one knew what it would do in zero G,” says the society’s Tania Lehmann. “We expected it to steadily move outwards from the container and steadily unfold but instead it came out, stayed a bit and then suddenly started unfolding.”

这是该计划的首次实验,实验为未来的宇航飞行提供了宝贵的数据。"没人知道这个装置在零重力下是否能正常运作,"协会的塔尼亚·黎曼(Tania Lehmann)表示。"我们原本以为它能从容器中慢慢弹出然后慢慢展开,但实际却是,它弹出后停留了几秒,然后突然展开。"

The inflatable will undergo further testing on an atmospheric rocket in one or two years. One day, it will hopefully be released from a probe to make scientific measurements while falling to the Martian surface.

在未来一两年内,这个充气装置将在大气层内亚轨道火箭上进行更多测试。有朝一日,它将搭载火星探测器抵达火星表面,然后从探测器上释放出来进行科学测量。

Every scientist on board the this zero G plane is aiming high. Perhaps that’s why art work on the outside of the plane shows a transformation from an ape through to a walking human being until, on the tail fin, it reaches the ultimate in evolution: a figure floating in space.

这架零重力飞机上的所有科学家都心存高远。这正是飞机蒙皮上的喷绘所展示的精神:从最初的猿猴进化为直立行走的人,最终成为在漂浮于太空中的新人类。

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