NASA is currently researching microgravity on the human body as it recruits several volunteers willing willing to do very little at its Houston headquarters for 70 days. The couch potatoes will get paid around $5,000 a month by the US space agency.
“Of all the potential challenges crew members encounter in the space environment, microgravity has proven to be one of the most difficult to mimic in an experimental setting,” explains Nasa.gov.
“Researchers and engineers are studying bed rest as an experimental analog for space flight because extended exposure to a head-down tilt position can duplicate many of the effects of a low-gravity environment.”
Successful candidates will stay in a tilted bed 24 hours a day as part of the 70-day project, where they can play computer games, surf the internet or watch TV. They can even get a shower while in bed.
Researchers will then monitor how long-term confinement to a reduced gravity environment effects muscle and bone strength, cardiovascular function and mental health.
The “pillownauts” will undergo a two-week rehabilitation period once the study is complete.
The only time they can move is when scientists carry out tests to find any changes in bone, muscle, circulation, nutrition and the immune system.
Or as part of the newly-introduced exercise called the “countermeasure and function testing” study, that will monitor how different movements can effect muscle size and strength, bone health, and cardiovascular function.
Even then you will be lying in bed and will exercise on specially-designed equipment.
Following 70 days, there is a 14-day rehabilitation period to get their bodies back into shape.
Self-described “pillownaut” Heather Archuletta has taken part in the study three times.
“I’m a very active person, so it’s difficult to be restricted to bed sometimes, but many of us are willing to do it for the sake of future space exploration,” she wrote on her blog.
“The… money… is… pretty freaking awesome, however. About $5,000 per month, which is great if you’ve just graduated, can’t find a job, are between jobs, or just plain love space exploration,” she added.
During extended periods, microgravity takes a serious toll on the human body.
Without the pulls of normal gravity, blood doesn’t flow downhill, but pools in the extremities including the face, hands and feet, causing a puffy appearance.