Astronaut Gear in the Future Could Fight Bone and Muscle Loss

On Monday, an The astronaut’s capsule looked like a giant orange juicer that was scattered in the Atlantic Ocean, repatriating its four -man crew under the influence of Earth’s gravity. These astronauts spent six months on International Space Station, and so the gravity now pulling on their bodies will feel familiar to them, but unique.

This team, called the SpaceX Crew-2, has spent most of the past half year in orbit doing spacefaring scientific work, such as testing “tissue chips, ”Small analogues of human organs. But they also eliminated hours as gym rats: Six days a week, they had a 2.5 -hour exercise block to reduce the damage that can be done to living in body space. wanang, as they say, lisud. But it’s even harder on people. Radiation, lack of gravity, and living in confined spaces can each be deadly.

“NASA has always been concerned about the effects of space flight on the human body, from early space missions,” said Michael Stenger, elemental scientist for Contraindications to Human Health, the agency arm dedicated to understanding how spaceflight affects physiology and mitigating effects. A big problem is that living in orbit is the same as physiologically in bedrest, even if you bounce to do experiments all day. “Being in space is like lying down doing nothing,” he said.

If you don’t have to counter gravity, your muscles and bones will lose strength, because parts of the anatomy follow a kind of “use it or lose it” philosophy. Muscles can atrophy, the same way they do when an astronaut lies on the couch playing Fallout all day. Bones can lose mass: They both form and break based on the forces they experience on a daily basis, from gravity and muscle use. After six months in space, the proximal femoral bone of the leg may ditch around. 10 percent of its mass, which takes years to recover back to earth.

The space in the cardiovascular system is also hard, says Stenger: “You no longer have to pump your heart as fast to maintain blood pressure, so your heart becomes weaker.” During astronaut Scott Kelly’s years in space, his heart dropped in size. more than a quarter, adapting to suit its new conditions. Back under the influence of gravity, the heart can pump itself back to normal, as if without long -term damage.

Scientists are not perfect understand why, but the thorns of the astronauts will also grow taller in space, and they will grow a few inches in length. Travelers descend back to their normal size on Earth, but after flight, astronauts have a higher risk of disk herniation, which may be associated with these spinal shifts. Also, their suits and equipment need to be designed for their dimensions — and if these dimensions change, the design can be complicated, especially on longer trips.

To keep astronauts inside healthy for their space tasks and healthy once they return to Earth, Human Health Countermeasures tried to correct these physiological errors — in part gym equipment made for in space. The Advanced Resistive Exercise Device is a space-based Bowflex class: It uses vacuum cylinders to create several hundred pounds of resistance, and microgravity athletes can reconfigure it to perform deadlifts, squats, or bench presses for two hours, including its time. needed to reconfigure the device and do a small repair. The ISS is also equipped with a treadmill and cycling machine, which astronauts use for 30 -minute interval training.

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