Volunteers spend 60 days in bed… for space science!

Yesterday, 12 adults in Cologne, Germany climbed into special beds where they will remain for 60 days to help scientists better understand the impact of longterm space flights on the human body.

The Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study is a joint program from European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. From the ESA:

…They will be kept in beds with the head end tilted 6° below horizontal and must ensure one of their shoulders is touching the mattress at all times.

As blood flows to their heads and muscle is lost from underuse, researchers will investigate changes and test techniques from diet to physical exercise. Artificial gravity is one of the techniques under the spotlight this time around and will see some of the participants sent spinning…

A number of different experiments will be carried out over the course of the study, looking at cardiovascular function, balance and muscle strength, metabolism and cognitive performance among other factors…

"To make these missions possible, various risks to astronaut health must be minimised," (says ESA team leader for research Jennifer Ngo-Anh). "This study allows us to address the issue of muscular atrophy caused by weightlessness, but also other stressors such as cosmic radiation, isolation and spatial restrictions."