NASA is looking for a small group of test subjects to lie in bed for 70 straight days, and will pay them $18,000 to do it. The experiment is meant to simulate extended periods of space travel, wherein the body undergoes extreme atrophy. The test will allow NASA scientists to determine what sort of muscle loss a person undergoes when inactive for so long, as they would be in the microgravity of a space shuttle.
According to Forbes, those hired by NASA to remain in bed are allowed to do entertain themselves however they want as long as they don’t get up. This includes food, games, movies, you name it. What matters to NASA is how the body handles the atrophy in space and how it can be resolved. The NASA study could even help in the quest to get humans on Mars, especially when it comes to the long journey through space to get there. Dr. Roni Cromwell, a senior scientist for NASA’s bed rest study, claims that the experiment will also help determine ways that astronauts can stay healthy in space without the strain of gravity and regular activity on Earth.
“Subjects in the study look at it as a way to help. In that what we eventually do will help astronauts maintain their health while in space.”
Though space travel does not technically remove gravity entirely, it takes very little effort to move around in space or manipulate objects. The beds in the NASA study are designed not only to reduce muscle activity, but to redirect body fluids to the upper half of the body (as would happen in space) by tilting the head-rest six degrees.
“Being able to test new ideas on Earth saves invaluable flight time,” said the Flight Analog project manager at NASA, Joe Neigut.
“What the bed rest does to their [test subjects] physiology and how the exercise countermeasures benefits their physiology helps us better prepare and protect astronauts when they are in space. In fact how it affects the physiology can be applied to everyone on earth.”
NASA astronauts are not completely inactive in space, however. There are exercise machines available in many NASA space vessels. For this reason, NASA will divide the test subjects into two categories: those who do nothing at all for the entire duration of the test and those who exercise while laying down in bed using a special machine, according to World Truth.
As for who qualifies for the test, NASA is looking for physically and psychologically fit people who can stand up (or lie down in this case) to the task.
“We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed,” said Dr. Cromwell.
“Not everyone is comfortable with that. Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed. Once they qualify physically and mentally, we do rigorous physical exercises to test muscle strength and aerobics capacity. We want people who have the physical and psychological characteristics of an astronaut. They should be able to do the kind of activities that astronauts do.”
For anyone interested in helping NASA with the study and making $18,000 in the process, you can apply here.
For more on NASA, check out the eerie sounds the organization recorded in space via the official NASA Soundcloud page.