Enough lying about

Oct 23, 2013
Energy measurements. Credit: ESA

ESA's volunteers recently finished their third and last session lying in bed in the interest of spaceflight and science. They can return to their normal lives after spending their last 21 days in bed with their feet up – once their bodies have recuperated from the experience.

When return from a long flight they can need days for their bodies to recuperate from the effects of living in weightlessness. Bedrest studies recreate some aspects of spaceflight to allow scientists to probe how their bodies react and test methods for keeping future astronauts fit and healthy.

This latest study, held in Toulouse, France, tested a high-protein diet and an that involves pushing the volunteers down onto vibrating plates while doing upside-down squats.

Resting in and getting paid for it might sound like an ideal job, but bedrest puts a huge strain on the participants as they submit themselves to days of monotony, constant tests and a strict diet without being allowed to get up for a walk, fresh air, a shower or even the toilet.

"The first days of each session were the worst," says Marc Marenco. "The body needs to adapt and I had migraines and backaches."

In return, the 'pillownauts' can feel proud of their contribution to the science of as well as helping bedridden people on Earth. 

"We are a reference for many articles, I think the data will help scientists move a step further in their research," explains Daniel Fandino, who works in a bar when not lying down. 

This volunteer spent three weeks in bed with his body tilted 6° below the horizontal. He was not allowed to stand up unless for an experiment and performed all daily activities in bed, including eating, showering and exercising. Bedrest studies can answer questions on how our bodies adapt to living in space and dapt to growing old. Credit: CNES-E. Grimault, 2013

Just like real astronauts, the pillownauts had to spend time readjusting to upright life in Earth's gravity as well as finishing tests before they could return to normal life.

Researchers will now study the data from the experiments. The study was organised by ESA in cooperation with France's CNES space agency and run at the MEDES clinical research facility in Toulouse.

Explore further: Astronauts exploring the depths

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sleeping for science: What can we learn?

Nov 13, 2012

(Phys.org)—Why are 12 volunteers about to spend 21 days in bed, lying with their heads tilted below the horizontal? Their experience will help to understand and address changes in astronauts' bodies in ...

Stress to rest

Apr 30, 2013

On Sunday, ESA's bedrest volunteers began lying down for their second three-week session with their heads angled below the horizontal to help research the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Six degrees of inclination

Dec 05, 2012

(Phys.org)—Stay in a tilted bed for weeks with your head at the lower end and your body starts to change as if it were ageing prematurely or living in space. Twelve volunteers in ESA's bedrest study are ...

Astronauts exploring the depths

Oct 07, 2013

Usually, ESA sends astronauts to outer space, but last week six astronauts from around the world spent six days underground to get a taste of working together in extreme conditions.

Measuring skull pressure without the headache

Dec 20, 2012

Space research has developed a new way of measuring the pressure inside your skull using simple sound waves from headphones. The device is an effective early-warning system for patients recovering from head ...

The worm that feels at home in space

Jul 11, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Astronauts return to Earth weakened and unsteady after weightlessness and radiation in space take their toll on the human body. New research now shows that the humble nematode worm adapts much ...

Recommended for you

How Rosetta arrives at a comet

27 minutes ago

After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA's Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

Lunar occultation of Saturn

49 minutes ago

On the night of Monday August 4, mainland Australia will see Saturn disappear behind the moon. It's the third time this year that the moon and Saturn will perfectly line up, as viewed from our part of the ...

SHERLOC to micro-map Mars minerals and carbon rings

2 hours ago

(Phys.org) —An ultraviolet-light instrument on the robotic arm of NASA's Mars 2020 rover will use two types of ultraviolet-light spectroscopy, plus a versatile camera, to help meet the mission's ambitious ...

NuSTAR celebrates two years of science in space

3 hours ago

(Phys.org) —NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, a premier black-hole hunter among other talents, has finished up its two-year prime mission, and will be moving onto its next phase, ...

User comments : 0