The movement of falling cats is used as part of an astronaut’s training. - FactzPedia

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The movement of falling cats is used as part of an astronaut’s training.

The movement of falling cats is used as part of an astronaut’s training.

It is a well-known phenomenon that a cat falling upside down has the ability to turn its body mid-air so that it lands on its feet. Although a number of scientists, including James Clerk Maxwell, had looked in detail at the "falling cat" problem, nobody had attempted to analyze the movement mathematically until 1969, when T.R. Kane and M.P. Scher of Stanford, California published a paper in the International Journal of Solids and Structures titled "A Dynamical Explanation of the Falling Cat Phenomenon." This study was partly funded by a NASA research grant.

Kane and Scher created a model cat using a pair of joined cylinders that flexed and bent together, and devised differential equations that described this study. NASA's interest lay in the fact that they could use this research to develop maneuvers that would help astronauts orient their bodies in the weightless conditions of space. Kane worked with NASA and used his equations to develop moves which were tested by a gymnast on a trampoline, as these images show.

The way cats try to correct themselves when falling was studied and analyzed by NASA scientists.

They then used their findings as a means to teach falling astronauts how to correct their movements in zero gravity.

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