The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and The European Space Agency (ESA) are embarking on an interesting experiment. It will require 24 people to spend 60 consecutive days in bed. They will also get paid $18,522 each.
The study aims to learn about the negative effects of prolonged periods of weightlessness on the body. This is to see how long missions into deep space will affect astronauts. 12 men and 12 women will stay in bed throughout the 60 days. They will lie with the head of the bed angled downward by six degrees. It is not the most comfortable position to be in for such long hours. A team of nutritionists will curate the meals so that participants do not gain weight and have all the nutrients they need. But the meals are not all “extra healthy”. There will sometimes be pancakes or other sweet treats.
The researchers will investigate changed and test techniques like diet and physical exercise. They plan to use artificial gravity under the spotlight, and they will let some of the participants spin as they will in space.
Once a day, some of the participants will stay in short-arm confined spaces and spun around to make their blood flow to their feet. This is so the scientists can know how artificial gravity will combat the effects of prolonged weightlessness. Take note that this is likely to lead to bone and muscle atrophy.
The ESA added:
“Currently, astronauts on board the International Space Station exercise for up to 2.5 hours per day and maintain a balanced diet to help mitigate microgravity’s effects. But scientists believe adding a dose of artificial gravity could be key during longer-term missions.”
Other components of the experiment will focus on cardiovascular function, balance, metabolism, cognitive performance and muscle strength. All these are to ensure that astronauts embarking on long trips to space will be as safe as possible.
The study launched in March 2019 at the German Aerospace Centre in Cologne, Germany. The 24 participants will stay at the research facility for another 29 days after the experiment to ensure they are safe and healthy upon recovery. The experiment, they say, will be very demanding on the human body. It won’t be easy money after all.