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During the early years of the US Space Program, NASA doctors and scientists developed a variety of computer programs to ready astronaut candidates for space flight. These computer programs mimicked computer video games of today.
NASA engineers simulated test flights using computer programs. Astronauts practiced liftoff, reentry, orbital maneuvers, and lunar landings. The simulations imitated malfunctions in the spacecraft that would force the astronauts to make emergency landings.
Controlling the spacecraft was an important exercise to prepare the astronauts for tumbling about in space. Computer programs imitated three types of turning motions; up and down; left to right; and front to back. At times, the astronauts practiced all three turning motions at once.
NASA engineers also designed computer programs to stimulate the harsh conditions of space. These conditions would test an astronaut’s capabilities. They would also expose an astronaut to the absence of atmosphere, to radiation, weightlessness, and extreme temperatures. The programs simulated every hazardous condition of space to gain a better understanding of how astronauts would hold up while in space.
The computer programs gauged the astronaut’s responses to various simulated conditions of space. These conditions included low barometric pressure, high-energy noise, thermal stress, and accelerative forces high-energy noise, low barometric pressure, and thermal stress.
Using these computer programs, NASA’s medical team tested the astronauts’ fatigue levels, personalities, and stress levels. The computers checked their blood pressure, respiration, and pulse during these activities.
The medical field is now using many of the same computer programs to research a number of disorders. For example, doctors are conducting research on the brain waves of children with Attention Deficit Disorder, or ADD.
Medical professionals use computer games and biofeedback as treatment for ADD. Doctors attempt to encourage the children to modify their brain activity to help them concentrate better and for longer periods. This research on children with ADD is effective and popular, because children enjoy playing video games.