NASA is currently looking for volunteers to lie in bed for 70 days
That’s right, you could get paid a total of around $18,000 for lying in bed, playing games on your phone, reading books, skyping with your friends and family, taking online classes – and even go on with your day job if you can get away with working remotely, so long as you don’t get out of bed for that entire duration.
And, for those with relinquished childhood dreams about being an astronaut, there may be an altruistic element to participating in the project: in doing so, you’re actually helping the country further conquer the final frontier – space. In a few years, when astronauts land on Mars, test subjects may be able to say they helped get them there. “Subjects in the study look at it as a way to help,” says Dr Roni Cromwell, senior scientist on the bed rest study. “In that what we eventually do will help astronauts maintain their health while in space.”
On a call with Houston (always wanted to say that), I was able to elicit further details from NASA’s news chief, Kelly Humphries and the two scientists involved in the bed rest study.
So what are the exact purposes of these studies?
The experiments are designed to find ways of preserving astronauts’ health and safety during periods of extended space travel. “Head down” bed rest is a good way of simulating travel through zero gravity space. Think about it, zero gravity means zero weight or strain on your muscles. It’s a more accessible way of analyzing the bodily changes that occur during space travel.
This study is designed to achieve three core tasks:
1) Understanding how one’s changing physiology in space may affect the process of certain missions.
2) Understanding the impact of one’s physiological state on their ability to perform in particular tasks.
3) Preparing countermeasures to combat any impairment that these physiological conditions may impose.