If you’re like me, you dread waking up and getting out of bed in the morning. And if you’re like me, the idea of being paid over $18,000 to stay in bed 24/7 sounds… just wonderful.
That’s exactly what a team of researchers at the German Aerospace Center’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, Germany are looking for. NASA and the European Space Agency have teamed up to look for women to stay in bed for 60 consecutive days to help study the effect of microgravity on the human body. As a reward for their inactivity, they will be given 16,500 Euros, or somewhere in the neighborhood of $18,525.
They’re looking for healthy women between the ages of 24 and 55 who don’t smoke for the study. They also require that you sprechen Deutsch, so brush up on your German if you’re interested.
NASA conducted a similar study in 2017 with 11 people spending a month in bed.
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Microgravity in space does some pretty brutal things to the human body. For one, you lose muscle mass because your body doesn’t have to fight gravity to move around. Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood throughout your body. You also lose most of your ability to taste as well because your sinuses become clogged with fluid. Astronaut Chris Hadfield explained it as “Your head sort of inflates like someone is squeezing the bottom of a balloon.”
You “grow” a bit, too. You become about 3% “taller” in space because your spine stretches out. This doesn’t sound like much, but a 6 foot tall astronaut would “grow” as much as 2 inches while in space.
Your eyes go a bit wonky as well. 80% of returning astronauts have an unknown condition that results in them being nearsighted. That’s not to mention the casual cosmic ray that blasts through the optic nerve of your eye – with your eyes closed, every once in a while a cosmic ray will pass through the optic nerve in your eye resulting in a bright flash of light.
Astronauts in orbit are monitored for sure, but they can’t be monitored nearly as well as a person down here on Earth whose only role is to do literally nothing for a couple months. CNN explains:
By simulating weightlessness’ effects with bed rest, scientists hope to develop methods to counteract the impacts of weightlessness so that astronauts do not have to spend most of their days on the space station exercising.
The researchers have already created a “short-arm human centrifuge”that generates artificial gravity and corrects the distribution of body fluids. They are hoping to test it out on two-thirds of the study participants each day.
“Crewed spaceflight will continue to be important in the future in order to carry out experiments in microgravity, but we must make it as safe as possible for the astronauts,” saysHansjörg Dittus, executive board member for space research and technology at the German Aerospace Center.
“This bed rest study … offers space researchers from all over Europe and the USA the opportunity to work together and jointly acquire as much scientific knowledge about human physiology as possible.”
The participants in the study will be at a 6° decline (with their legs elevated so more fluid goes into their heads), and they have to do everything laying lying down. And I mean e v e r y t h i n g. They will eat laying down, bathe laying down, and even poop laying down. I’m interested in how that will work and be sanitary. I think I’d just do my best to not poop for two months. You know, because that’s healthy.
There are two parts to the study. The first part began on Tuesday of this week and involves 12 men and 12 women. They haven’t announced how many participants they’re looking for in this second round of women, but the study will happen from September to December of this year.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about the study on their website.