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I know that at a particular altitude above Earth, the effects of its gravitational pull become negligible- thus the feeling of weightlessness by astronauts. In most Sci-Fi movies, including the much lauded "INTERSTELLAR", these astronauts are always shown spinning (inside the space station before 'art-grav' ;) is engaged).

My question is: do they ever feel like they are upside down at any point in their trajectory? If not, does that mean that our sense of up and down is totally defined by gravity?

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Firstly, when astronauts are in orbit around the Earth, they are effectively in free fall and feel weightlessness because of this, rather than feeling weightless due to being far from the Earth.

Quite simply our sense of up and down is indeed solely determined by gravity. The world is round and what is up to me, is down to someone on the other side of the world, simply because the gravitational pull is in the opposite direction.

Therefore when you are in free fall or in outer-space far from a gravitational field, you won't really have a sense of being upside down, or the right way up.

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  • $\begingroup$ Human beings also use sight to localise themselves as well. Shouldn't that matter? $\endgroup$
    – xyz
    Jul 6 '15 at 20:28

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