NASA Study Subjects Are Getting Paid $18,500 to Stay in Bed for Two Months

iStock.com/Vicheslav
iStock.com/Vicheslav

Twenty four people are getting the chance to make an important contribution to space exploration while lying on their backs. As the Evening Standard reports, NASA and ESA (the European Space Agency) are paying volunteers 16,500 euros—more than $18,500—to stay in bed for two months in the name of science.

The study is a way for scientists at the American and European space agencies to test the effectiveness of artificial gravity on Earth. For 60 days, 24 volunteers will be instructed to eat their meals, go to the bathroom, and do everything else lying down. They can do anything they want with their months of free time, including reading, taking online classes, and binge-watching any shows they've been meaning to catch up on, as long as they can do it from bed.

All that down time is meant to simulate the effects of microgravity on astronauts. When people spend extended periods in space, their muscles deteriorate, their bones become less dense, and their blood flows differently throughout their bodies. Regular exercise is used to combat this, but scientists hope that artificial gravity can do even more to fight the side effects.

The subjects of the study will be positioned at a slight incline with their feet raised higher than their heads to reduce blood flow to the legs, recreating the same physical changes astronauts experience in space. The only time they will be encouraged to stand up is to visit a centrifuge in a laboratory. The spinning rig simulates gravity, pushing blood toward the volunteers' lower extremities. At the end of the study, the scientists will see if the simulator did anything to minimize the effects of lying in the same position for so long.

After the 60 days are up, the study participants won't be able to go home with their $18,500 immediately. Like real-life astronauts, they'll need to undergo a rehabilitation period before they're back to normal.

[h/t Evening Standard]

What Is the Kitchen Like on the International Space Station?

iStock/Elen11
iStock/Elen11

Clayton C. Anderson:

The International Space Station (ISS) does not really have a "kitchen" as many of us here on Earth might relate to. But, there is an area called the "galley" which serves the purpose of allowing for food preparation and consumption. I believe the term "galley" comes from the military, and it was used specifically in the space shuttle program. I guess it carried over to the ISS.

The Russian segment had the ONLY galley when I flew in 2007. There was a table for three, and the galley consisted of a water system—allowing us to hydrate our food packages (as needed) with warm (tepid) or hot (extremely) water—and a food warmer. The food warmer designed by the Russians was strictly used for their cans of food (about the size of a can of cat food in America). The U.S. developed a second food warmer (shaped like a briefcase) that we could use to heat the more "flexibly packaged" foodstuffs (packets) sent from America.

Later in the ISS lifetime, a second galley area was provided in the U.S. segment. It is positioned in Node 1 (Unity) and a table is also available there for the astronauts' dining pleasures. Apparently, it was added because of the increasing crew size experienced these days (6), to have more options. During my brief visit to ISS in 2010 (12 days or so) as a Discovery crewmember, I found the mealtimes to be much more segregated than when I spent five months on board. The Russians ate in the Russian segment. The shuttle astronauts ate in the shuttle. The U.S. ISS astronauts ate in Node 1, but often at totally different times. While we did have a combined dinner in Node 1 during STS-131 (with the Expedition 23 crew), this is one of the perceived negatives of the "multiple-galley" scenario. My long duration stint on ISS was highlighted by the fact that Fyodor Yurchikhin, Oleg Kotov, and I had every single meal together. The fellowship we—or at least I—experienced during those meals is something I will never, ever forget. We laughed, we argued, we celebrated, we mourned …, all around our zero-gravity "dinner table." Awesome stuff!

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

Clayton "Astro Clay" Anderson is an astronaut, motivational speaker, author, and STEAM education advocate.

His award-winning book The Ordinary Spaceman, Astronaut Edition Fisher Space Pen, and new children's books A is for Astronaut; Blasting Through the Alphabet and It's a Question of Space: An Ordinary Astronaut's Answers to Sometimes Extraordinary Questions are available at www.AstroClay.com. For speaking events www.AstronautClayAnderson.com. Follow @Astro_Clay #WeBelieveInAstronauts

The Northern Lights Could Be Visible Over Parts of the U.S. This Week

iStock.com/Marc_Hilton
iStock.com/Marc_Hilton

Residents in the northern U.S. could be treated to a rare meteorological spectacle this week. As USA Today reports, the northern lights will likely be visible over certain states from May 15 to May 17, including Maine, Michigan, and Montana.

An aurora borealis, an event caused by solar particles colliding with atoms in Earth's atmosphere, is normally limited to countries at higher latitudes like Iceland. On rare occasions, increased activity from the Sun results in stronger and more widespread auroras on our planet.

Following a significant release of plasma and magnetic energy from the Sun's corona, the Space Weather Prediction Center announced a geomagnetic storm watch for this week. The Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are expected to reach Earth on Wednesday, May 15, and persist through Friday. During that time, the prediction center says the northern lights may appear over parts of the contiguous United States. Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and most of New England all fall within the projected aurora zone.

The solar storm will peak at a G2 (moderate) level on May 16—which makes Thursday night and Friday morning the best times to catch the light show. As is the case with stars and meteor showers, people in major cities will have trouble seeing the event. Their best bet is to find a high vantage point with little light pollution.

[h/t USA Today]

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