Terra X Cube: The Next Hi-Tech Research Platform For Extreme High Altitude Climate Simulation
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At: International Hypoxia Symposium ; Lake Louise, Alberta ; 19/02/2019 - 24/02/2020 ; Field-based scientific investigations in extreme environments represent a major research challenge. Complex combinations of multiple environmental parameters can prove highly difficult to mitigate against, thus making it difficult to standardise data collection and manage the logistics necessary to enable detailed assessment of individual response. In an effort to resolve these research concerns and remain reactive to scientific interest in the physiological limitations of human endeavor, institutions worldwide have aimed to develop environmental simulation chambers, as well as accessible research facilities in remote terrestrial habitats. In conjunction with the ongoing development of next-generation environmental simulation technology and the establishment of dedicated research platforms, interest in investigating specific climate combinations at a high altitude equivalent has fast become an international hot topic. As a result, the design and realisation of the terraXcube research facility, powered by Eurac Research, is a unique example of the latest in technological advancement. A newly emergent EU research infrastructure, the terraXcube is complete with two hypobaric, climate enabled facilities (Large and Small Cube), medical support services and research expertise. The large cube (137 m2), will enable the synchronous control of multiple climatic parameters: barometric pressure (≥ 300mbar), oxygen concentration, temperature (-40°C - +60°C), humidity (10% - 95%), wind (≤ 30m/sec), precipitation (rain and snowfall), as well as light (day and night cycles). In total 15 individuals can be accommodated. Test protocols in the Large Cube test chamber may also include the use of the adjoining hypobaric enabled ambulatory chamber, airlock and toilet. The main objectives of the terraXcube is to enable the controlled, reproducible investigation of both short and long-term exposure to low barometric pressures, specific ascent/ decent use cases and potentially invasive or technically complex human physiological assessment under challenging conditions.