NASA is today sending the astronauts on the International Space Station a new pair of shoes. These so-called ForceShoes are not for space walks. They're actually a high-tech measurement device that helps NASA scientists gain a better understanding of the effects that heavy loads have on astronauts' bodies.
ForceShoes work somewhat like two little bathroom scales that you attach to your feet. They work in tandem with the space station's Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) which helps the astronauts exercise so they don't lose bone and muscle mass. However, NASA's never entirely understood how the forces that this machine put on astronauts bodies actually work. These high tech sandals will help them. NASA explains:
During the static load test, crew members will be asked to set the ARED to provide specific loads in the same way they would set loads on a weightlifting machine at the gym. They will then lift the exercise bar and stand still on ARED while the shoes collect data. …
Dynamic exercise will include squats, deadlifts and bicep curls.
There's nothing like pumping iron in sandals, right? It is unclear, however, whether NASA will require the astronauts to wear socks with them. [NASA]