60 days in bed bring in $ 19,000 – and a chance to protect astronauts


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By Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky

Imagine staying in bed for weeks, eating and sleeping without getting up – and being generously paid for your problems.

What seems to be a dream job for some is actually the establishment of a new experiment conducted by NASA and the European Space Agency. The study, which began Monday in Cologne, Germany, aims to assess the health effects of a long-duration space flight by limiting the movements of participants for two months.

This study, dubbed Agbresa (European Space Agency), will also explore the potential benefits of artificial gravity to help astronauts stay healthy on missions to Mars and other far-flung destinations. This is the first collaboration of this kind between space agencies and the first to use a "human centrifuge" of the space age to create an artificial gravity.

The Human Centrifuge: Envihab makes people turn to create an environment of artificial gravity.DLR

The study "offers space researchers from across Europe and the United States the opportunity to work together and gain as much scientific knowledge as possible about human physiology," said Hansjörg Dittus, a member of the German Aerospace Center, in a statement.

The study is conducted in the premises of the center "envihab" ("environment" and "habitat") in Cologne, where participants – 12 men and 12 women – will spend 60 consecutive days in bed during the 89 days of l & # 39; study. which includes extra time for preparation and recovery. For their time, they will receive 16,500 euros (about 19,000 dollars).

More than half a century of manned spaceflight has shown that the environment of microgravity in space is causing radical changes and potentially dangerous for the human body. Without the gravity of the Earth to drop objects, body fluids rise upward to accumulate in the chest and head, bones and muscles being exhausted.

Staying in bed for long periods of time can cause similar changes, so that study participants will do almost everything from bed: envihab for the duration of the study.

But staying in bed is not exactly a walk in the park. Participants' beds are tilted down slightly to encourage liquids to settle in the upper body. And to mimic the effects of microgravity on their muscles, bones and tendons, participants must minimize movement. This means at least one shoulder on the mattress at all times.

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