In order to test the effectiveness of exercises on a body after prolonged weightlessness, NASA is conducting studies requiring a subject to stay in bed for 70 days.
The next best thing to being an astronaut might be being tested on like one? NASA is willing to pay eighteen grand to anyone willing to take part in a three month study which will require the participant to remain in bed for 70 days straight in an attempt to simulate the effects on the body from weightlessness.
After the seventy days of bed rest, the participants will engage in exercises to recondition the body which will test the effectiveness of those exercises. After a long time of exposure to zero-gravity, a body loses cardiovascular and musculoskeletal tone. Known as “Bed Rest Studies”, they have been conducted since 2013.
NASA won’t take just anybody, however. Participants will need to meet rigorous standards of physical fitness and be U.S. citizens or at least residents. The scientists at NASA are hoping to get useful data from this research to improve the health of astronauts who face physical problems from missions requiring long periods of time without gravity.
The first stage of the test requires participants to spend a couple weeks at a facility where they can move around and live more-or-less normally. When the second stage starts, they will be sent to the NASA Flight Analog Research Unit in Houston, Texas to spend ten weeks lying in bed, tilted with their heads down and feet up. This is how they will simulate weightlessness on the body. “Head down bed rest is a good way to mimic a person travelling in space without gravity,” claims NASA.
Participants will have their movements severely restricted to make sure they have minimum physical activity. This means they will have to shower and relieve themselves all in bed. They’ll be allowed to do activities which don’t require much energy such as reading, watching movies and using computers.
During the study, NASA will be monitoring the participants’ bodies closely for changes. They warn candidates that physical effects may include back and neck pains, aching arms and joints. After 70 days of this, they will do reconditioning exercises in bed to see if they are adequate to help get their bodies back in shape.
If you are wondering what it would be like, Vice put out a participant’s account from the studies last year.