NASA will pay $18,000 to anyone prepared to stay in bed for 10 weeks and submit to a gruelling regime of tests for more than three months. The only criteria are the candidates have to be healthy and American citizens.
Scientists will constantly examine the lucky ones, who are selected, for 70 days. The research is being carried out to simulate how effective exercise is on astronauts, who lose cardiovascular, bone and muscle function as a result of living in zero gravity conditions.
The volunteers will be split into those who exercise and those who don’t. The first step will see all those taking part, spend between two and three weeks inside a “bed rest facility.” Here they will be allowed to move around a lead a normal day’s life.
The second stage will see the volunteers transferred to NASA’s Flight Analog Research Unit in Houston, Texas. They will spend 10 weeks lying in bed, with their bodies tilted slightly backwards, with their feet up and their head down.
Movement will be kept to a bare minimum, with the human lab rats only able to go to the toilet in a plastic bedpan, while they will also have to wash while lying down with a hand-held showerhead.
Reading and watching movies will be allowed, as these activates don’t use up much energy. However, the participants could suffer from aching joints, due to lying on one position for such a lengthy period of time.
The idea is to emulate what an astronaut’s body goes through during the weightlessness of space flight.
The third stage will see the participants undertake 14 days of exercise, which will include cycling, squatting and walking. The aim of these “reconditioning activities,” is to see how regular exercise helps the body to get back to normal shape.
Treadmills and weight machines will also be used, while the workouts will vary in intensity everyday.
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