Enough lying about

22 October 2013
ESA’s volunteers recently finished their third and last session lying in bed in the interest of spaceflight and science. They can return to their normal lives after spending their last 21 days in bed with their feet up - once their bodies have recuperated from the experience.

When astronauts return from a long flight they can need days for their bodies to recuperate from the effects of living in weightlessness. Bedrest studies recreate some aspects of spaceflight to allow scientists to probe how their bodies react and test methods for keeping future astronauts fit and healthy.

This latest study, held in Toulouse, France, tested a high-protein diet and an exercise routine that involves pushing the volunteers down onto vibrating plates while doing upside-down squats.

Resting in bed and getting paid for it might sound like an ideal job, but bedrest puts a huge strain on the participants as they submit themselves to days of monotony, constant tests and a strict diet without being allowed to get up for a walk, fresh air, a shower or even the toilet.

"The first days of each session were the worst," says Marc Marenco. "The body needs to adapt and I had migraines and backaches."

In return, the ’pillownauts’ can feel proud of their contribution to the science of human space exploration as well as helping bedridden people on Earth.

"We are a reference for many articles, I think the data will help scientists move a step further in their research," explains Daniel Fandino, who works in a bar when not lying down.

Just like real astronauts, the pillownauts had to spend time readjusting to upright life in Earth’s gravity as well as finishing tests before they could return to normal life.

Researchers will now study the data from the experiments. The study was organised by ESA in cooperation with France’s CNES space agency and run at the MEDES clinical research facility in Toulouse.
Rating: 0 /5 ( 0 votes cast)
Thank you for rating!

You have already rated this page, you can only rate it once!

Your rating has been changed, thanks for rating!

Experiments wanted for the next-best-thing to human research in space 02 October 2013 ESA is accepting proposals for scientific research using two of its human spaceflight ’analogue’ platforms: bedrest studies and the Concordia station in Antarctica. Such experiments increase our knowledge of human risks in spaceflight today, and espec...

Bedsuit 01 May 2013 Seventies science-fiction or science experiment? Not an actor or space traveller, this ’pillownaut’ might not have his feet on firm ground, but he is simulating spaceflight by spending three weeks in bed.

Stress to rest 26 April 2013 On Sunday, ESA’s bedrest volunteers began lying down for their second three-week session with their heads angled below the horizontal to help research the effects of weightlessness on the human body.

Measuring skull pressure without the headache 19 December 2012 Space research has developed a new way of measuring the pressure inside your skull using simple sound waves from headphones. The device is an effective early-warning system for patients recovering from head injury or brain surgery.

Get some rest 12 November 2012 Why are 12 volunteers about to spend 21 days in bed, lying with their heads tilted below the horizontal? Their experience will help to understand and address changes in astronauts’ bodies in space as well as in bedridden people on Earth.

What are bedrest studies? 10 May 2012 Bedrest studies offer scientists a way to see how the human body adapts to weightlessness. They allow researchers to test techniques to counteract the negative effects of living in space. The results benefit people on Earth - many negative effects of...

Why bedrest studies? 10 May 2012 Preparing for spaceflight is no easy task. Sending people into space is expensive and dangerous while the effects of living beyond the pull of gravity are not fully understood. Space agencies need to research the effects of living in space on the huma...