Bedrest studies

Research into the human physiology of weightlessness

Next Generation Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (:envihab)
Next Generation Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (:envihab)
Image 1/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

Next Generation Short-Arm Human Centrifuge (:envihab)

The short-arm centrifuge :envihab at DLR in Cologne offers possibilities to carry out physical training for the purposes of maintaining fitness levels under variable gravity conditions. In (AGBRESA, the centrifuge is used to test whether it can be used to counteract the negative effects of weightlessness.

The beds are angled downwards towards the head end by six degrees
The beds are angled downwards towards the head end by six degrees
Image 2/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0)

The beds are angled downwards towards the head end by six degrees

The slight inclination of the beds ensures that thebody fluids - as with the astronauts in weightlessness - in the direction of the head.

In :envihab
In :envihab
Image 3/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

In :envihab

The short-arm human centrifuge rotates, generating artificial gravity for the test subjects

Rotating research
Rotating research
Image 4/4, Credit: DLR (CC-BY 3.0).

Rotating research

Up to four test candidates can be accelerated simultaneously at up to 6G on the ends of the centrifuge arms, providing unique conditions for experiments; these include developing training measures for astronauts to remain in a microgravity environment for prolonged periods. Complex sequences of movements in hypergravity can be recorded with high precision while remotely operated medical experiments are conducted. Doctors continuously monitor the test subjects during experiments on the centrifuge.

If astronauts are to live for long periods in space, on the Moon or on Mars in the future, effective countermeasures must be developed to deal with the negative effects of weightlessness and reduced gravity. In a zero-gravity environment, muscles and bones atrophy significantly, body fluids shift to the upper body, and there is less strain placed on the whole cardiovascular system, which then loses efficiency. In a nutshell, the degenerative process speeds up in space compared with what would happen on Earth.

Research into the human physiology of weightlessness is important not just for astronauts to maintain their health and fitness in space, but also for people on Earth. This is why space medicine can be just as valuable as research into health on Earth.

Lying in bed for the sake of science 

Bedrest studies are considered to be the gold standard in space medical research when it comes to simulating the effect of weightlessness on the human body on Earth. The impact on the test subjects’ bodies during long-term bedrest studies are comparable to those experienced by astronauts in space. Depending on the research topic, initially simulating aspects on Earth, where the conditions are easier to control can bring advantages.

DLR has gathered a wealth of experience in the area of short-term and long-term bedrest studies. Launched in 2019, the Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study (AGBRESA) is the first long-term bedrest study jointly conducted by DLR, NASA and ESA. In the :envihab research facility at DLR’s site in Cologne, researchers are using a short-arm human centrifuge for the first time to test whether artificial gravity can counteract bone and muscle atrophy.

4 articles

10 Blogs

1 Download

Use of cookies

OK

Main menu