The Effects of Outer Space on Vowel Space
After returning from the Expedition 35 space mission, astronaut Chris Hadfield reported that he had learned to speak with a weightless tongue in space, and that his tongue and lips felt heavy on landing. Such comments indicate that gravity has a substantial effect on speech articulation. Previous work has investigated the effects of altered gravity in space travel on speech production [Yu & Hansen (2017) JASA 141, 1605], however the audio assessed was from the 1969 Apollo Moon landings, and thus of poor quality due to technological limitations. These technological limitations resulted in a lack of appropriate data, eg; F1 and F2 were only assessed for one vowel, with only F1 investigated for the remaining vowels. The present analysis makes use of higher quality audio from the more recent STS-134 mission in 2011, and investigates F1 and F2 of astronaut Mark Kelly before, during, and immediately after the STS-134 mission. Approximately 90 seconds of audio from each condition (1. pre-launch interview, 2. in-space interview, 3. post-landing tarmac interview) was assessed using automated alignment and formant extraction via the Dartmouth Linguistic Automation suite (DARLA). Plotted vowel spaces from each condition suggest substantial reduction of vowel spaces in both the in-space and post-landing conditions. Three way ANOVA’s comparing F1 and F2 across all conditions indicate significant differences for all high vowels, especially for F1 which corresponds to vowel height. These observations corroborate Chris Hadfield’s descriptions that altered gravity results in observable impairments to speech motor control.
How to Cite
Copyright on articles is held by the author(s). The corresponding author has the right to grant on behalf of all authors and does grant on behalf of all authors, a worldwide exclusive licence (or non-exclusive license for government employees) to the Publishers and its licensees in perpetuity, in all forms, formats and media (whether known now or created in the future)
i) to publish, reproduce, distribute, display and store the Contribution;
ii) to translate the Contribution into other languages, create adaptations, reprints, include within collections and create summaries, extracts and/or, abstracts of the Contribution;
iii) to exploit all subsidiary rights in the Contribution,
iv) to provide the inclusion of electronic links from the Contribution to third party material where-ever it may be located;
v) to licence any third party to do any or all of the above.