September 22, 2013
Stay In Bed For 70 Days, Get Paid By NASA
[ Watch the Video: NASA Accepting Applications For Bed-Rest Study ]
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
If you’ve ever had a tough time getting out of bed, you might just have what it takes to help shape the future of manned spaceflight in the US, while making a cool $18,000 in the process.
Believe it or not, NASA is currently recruiting volunteers for a new 70-day bed rest study designed to test the conditions that astronauts could experience while traveling in space for an extended period of time, according to Michelle Castillo of CBS News.
“NASA hopes to find out what physical changes occur to scientists on these missions and how much body function is required for a person to complete a specific task,” Castillo said. “The information will be used to develop methods that allow astronauts to have an easier time physically acclimating to daily life following space exploration.”
“Since there is no gravity in space, astronauts don't exert as much effort and might not get the necessary exercise they need to stay in shape,” she added. “Researchers are requiring participants to stay on a slight tilt which is intended to allow fluids to move towards the upper part of the body. That would allow researchers to study cardiovascular symptoms similar to what might be experienced during a space expedition.”
Dr. Roni Cromwell, senior scientist on the research project, explained to Forbes that astronauts who spend several weeks or more floating around in the microgravity of space are forced to use little effort to complete tasks, causing their muscles to atrophy. The bed rest study is being described by NASA as a “countermeasure” to help minimize biological changes that occur during spaceflight.
Those who participate will be required to live in a specialized facility at the US space agency’s Flight Analogs Research Unit (FARU) in Galveston, Texas. Not all of them will just be resting for 70 days – some will be asked to remain there for 105 days while participating in aerobic exercises and resistance training, while others will spend 97 days at the center and will not be asked to undergo a fitness regimen, Castillo explained.
All the while, NASA will be collecting data about the participants’ bones, muscles, heart and circulatory systems, nervous systems, nutritional conditions. The subjects’ ability to battle infections will also be monitored. Both groups will be given several days of regular living at the facility, as well as a two-week recovery period following the study during which they will be eased back into regular physical activity, the CBS news reporter added.
“We don't want couch potatoes for this study,” Cromwell told the Houston Chronicle. She noted that sitting up or standing up is prohibited for study participants and described the exercises as high-intensity. Subjects are allowed to go outside, but must remain with their head-down and only for a limited amount of time so that they do not receive too much vitamin D from the sun, the NASA researcher added.
Would-be participants must also undergo psychological testing and be non-smokers.
“We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed. Not everyone is comfortable with that. Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed,” Dr. Cromwell told Forbes.
“Once they qualify physically and mentally, we do rigorous physical exercises to test muscle strength and aerobics capacity,” she added. “We want people who have the physical and psychological characteristics of an astronaut. They should be able to do the kind of activities that astronauts do.”