The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a new series of bedrest studies, some of which will take place in Slovenia.
The aim of this project is to learn more about the human body in space. In bedrest, study volunteers stay in bed for long periods of time – 60 days in the research set to be carried out in Planica by the Jožef Stefan Institute.
Sounds easy, but it’s actually not …
The lack of movement won’t be the only limitation on participants for two months, as there are two further conditions attached to successful participation. First, while in bed their heads must remain 6° below the horizontal. Second, throughout the whole 60 days at least one shoulder needs to remain in contact with the bed at all times – during meals, showers and toilet breaks. The effects of this regimen will be blood and other fluids moving towards the head, as muscles and bones start wasting away.
And while they’ll be staying on their backs the 48 volunteers will see some movement, as the center is equipped with a centrifuge that can spin them around to recreate gravity pulling towards their feet while laying down, so research can find out ways to counteract the adverse effects of living in space.
A press release by the ESA notes that Planica is a good location for studying the effects of a life of the planet, since it is located at high altitude and there is less atmospheric pressure, as in any future lunar habitat. To further add to the realism the test center also enables researchers to change the environmental conditions to make them better resemble those in a spacecraft or space habitat. Testing volunteers with low oxygen levels, for example, can produce data relevant to future space missions where the confined environments of spacecraft and space habitats could contain less oxygen.
A total of 48 volunteers are wanted, half of whom will be in Slovenia, the other half in France, and they’ll be paid around €15,000 for their help. The call for volunteers to take part in the study doesn’t seem to be open yet, but you can learn more about the project, which is accepting research proposals for other things to subject the participants to, here.