Traveling to space is not easy and even though we have all dreamed of being astronauts, the road is hard and very few arrive. Of course, there are some other options to work at NASA or ESA.
In order for scientists to send people to Mars or to step on the moon again, they must know and understand the effects that life in space represents for the human body.
Weightlessness is not free in our bones and muscles and it is important to know how to prevent negative effects, such as bone weakness or loss of muscle mass.
NASA and ESA have teamed up to do a bed rest study to see how the body adapts to weightlessness. Both space agencies announced they are looking for two dozen volunteers to spend 60 days lying down with the purpose of helping scientists understand how space travel will affect astronauts.
Participants will receive a payment of 16,500 Euros and must travel to Cologne, Germany.
However, there are some requirements for volunteers that must be done: they must be between 24 and 55 years old, be in good shape and speak German.
The investigation will begin in September and will take a total of 89 days. Before going to bed, participants will receive five days of familiarization with the equipment and the environment. Once the 60 days of study in bed are over, another 14 days of rehabilitation will have to pass, just like the real astronauts.
During the period of bed rest, they will be asked to do everything (yes, everything) lying down, from eating to going to the bathroom. Participants can watch television, they will be provided with reading material and other activities. They are also encouraged to enroll in online courses and learn new skills, a way to assess the influence on learning. During rest, the volunteers will lie down with their legs slightly higher than their heads to reduce the flow of blood to the extremities. This will impose a muscular deterioration, similar to that experienced by astronauts in space.
The volunteers, 24 in total, will be divided into two groups. One half will visit a centrifuge in a laboratory from time to time. This installation acts as an artificial gravity chamber, since its rotating platform simulates gravity and pushes the blood towards the lower extremities of the participants. This will help scientists know if the simulator was in any way useful to minimize the effects of lying down in one position for an extended period of time.
However, not only astronauts and space travelers will benefit from the research, but also people who experience terrestrial health problems. By using the human centrifuge tool, the study will provide more information on osteoporosis, muscle atrophy and cardiovascular diseases.