NASA Is Offering $18,500 to Lie in Bed for 60 Days

The unique study by NASA, the ESA, and the German Aerospace Center will test the effects of artificial gravity on the bodies of astronauts in space.

|
Mar 28 2019, 8:27pm

The centrifuge. Image: ESA

If lying down is your idea of a good time, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have an $18,000 offer for you.

NASA, in collaboration with the ESA and the German Aerospace Center, launched the Artificial Gravity Bed Study (AGBRESA) this week. The study will test the use of artificial gravity to prevent the muscle and bone atrophy that plagues astronauts when they spend extended periods of time in space.

The first phase of the study is already underway and includes 12 male and 12 female participants. The agencies are currently seeking women volunteers between the ages of 25 and 55 for the second phase of the study, beginning in the fall. The study pays participants 16,500 euros, or roughly $18,500 USD.

Study participants will have to remain in bed in a lab in Germany for 60 days. ”All experiments, meals, and leisure pursuits will take place lying down,” according to a press release, and movement will be restricted in order to prevent placing any strain on participants' bodies. This is designed to mimic the effects of zero-gravity. The beds are tilted by six degrees to recreate the displacement of bodily fluids that happens to astronauts in space.

This isn’t the first time NASA has conducted a study on zero gravity’s effects on the human body. NASA has conducted studies in the International Space Station, as well as similar ones on Earth that involved participants lying down for extended periods in a controlled environment.

In the current study, participants will undergo testing that simulates a kind of artificial gravity chamber. According to a release, two-thirds of participants will be placed in a special centrifuge and rotated daily to force blood back into their extremities. Then the results will be compared with the participants who did not undergo this treatment.

“AGBRESA allows us to address the issue of muscular atrophy caused by weightlessness,” Jennifer Ngo-Anh, Team Leader in Human and Robotic Exploration at the ESA, said in a press statement.

The experiment is taking place in a lab called :envihab, which is part of the German Aerospace Center Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, Germany. In addition to the 60 days of the study, there’s 5 days of orientation, and 14 days of rest and rehabilitation in the beginning and end of the study, totalling an 89-day commitment.

“Crewed spaceflight will continue to be important in the future in order to carry out experiments in microgravity,” said Hansjörg Dittus, the German Aerospace Center’s Executive Board Member for Space Research and Technology. “But we must make it as safe as possible for the astronauts."

Get six of our favorite Motherboard stories every day by signing up for our newsletter.

Stories