Space travel is not only expensive, but also very dangerous.
If humans are to send people to Mars, scientists must know and understand the effects that living in space has on the human body. It is known that the so-called “puffy-head, bird-legs” syndrome exists, which manifests itself when, due to zero gravity conditions, blood flow is no longer pulled to the legs and as a result, the astronaut’s head is filled with fluid. Therefore, NASA and ESA teamed up to conduct a bed rest study to see how the body adapts to weightlessness. The space agencies announced that they are looking for two dozen volunteers to spend 60 days laying down to help scientists understand how space travel will affect astronauts. The participants will be paid 16,500 euros, which is more than $18,500, and will have to travel to Cologne, Germany.
The 24 selected participants will travel to the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) to stay in bed for two months.
However there are some requirements that must be met by the volunteers, they must be between the age of 24 and 55, healthy and able to speak German. The research will begin in September and will last a total of 89 days, as, before their time in bed, the participants will be given five days of familiarization. Upon completion of the 60 days bed-bound study, they will undergo 14 days of rehabilitation, like how the real astronauts do.
During the bed rest period, they will be required to do everything while lying down. Participants will have the ability to watch television, will be provided with books and other activities. During their rest, the volunteers will lay down with their legs slightly above their heads in order to reduce blood flow to the extremities. This will impose muscle deterioration, similar to that experienced by real astronauts in space.
The volunteers will be split into two groups. One half will visit a centrifuge in a laboratory from time to time. The centrifuge acts as an artificial gravity chamber, as its spinning rig simulates gravity, pushing blood toward the participants’ lower extremities. This will help scientists see whether the simulator was in any way helpful of minimizing the effects of lying down in one position for a prolonged period of time.
During the research, the newly introduced DLR Short-Arm Centrifuge will be used.
The new Short-Arm Centrifuge simulates and studies the effects of artificial gravity on the human body. Not only do astronauts and space travelers benefit from the research, but people experiencing terrestrial health issues will also benefit. By using the human centrifugal tool, the study will bring more insights into osteoporosis, muscular atrophy, and cardiovascular diseases.
The bed rest experiment is aimed to stimulate the effects of microgravity on the human’s body. When a prolonged period of time is spent in space, the muscles deteriorate, bones become less dense and blood flows differently throughout the body. To combat these side effects, regular exercise is used, but scientists hope that artificial gravity can prove to be even more beneficial.
A team of medical, psychotherapeutic, scientific professionals and a nutritionist will be on site. The nutritionist will plan the meals of the participants. Food will be prepared with no additives and artificial sweeteners, while at the same time balanced enough to ensure sufficient nutritional value.