Money Matters - Simplified

NASA’s bed rest study can fetch big money for couch potatoes

NASA is currently recruiting volunteers to spend 70 days doing very little at its Houston headquarters as part of the US space agency’s research into the effects of microgravity on the human body.

Who would have thought that staying in bed would help an individual earn money; big money? NASA’s latest recruitment spree for its ‘Bed Rest Study’ defies the notion that ‘there is no free lunch.’

If you have nothing else in hand or if you dread the thought of jumping out of bed, the next 70 days could be absolute bliss for you.

NASA is currently hiring volunteers to spend 70 days in bed at its Houston headquarters. The space agency will reportedly pay £3,000 a month to these volunteers, to be roped in for a study on the effects of microgravity on the human body.

Simulate Low-Gravity

Large-scale studies are not feasible in orbit and, therefore, NASA is attempting to simulate the effects on the ground level itself.

NASA claims that the numerous challenges that its crew encounters in space, microgravity holds special importance as it is difficult to replicate in an experimental setting.

“Researchers and engineers are studying bed rest as an experimental analog for space flight because extended exposure to a head-down tilt position can duplicate many of the effects of a low-gravity environment,” explains Nasa.gov.

The objective of the NASA study is to develop measures to offset the effects of reduced gravity that the crew of long duration space missions normally encounters.

NASA is likely to use the "bed rest" facility installed at the Flight Analog Research Unit (FARU) at the University of Texas Medical Branch for this study. The said facility is equipped with state-of-the-art specialist beds that can mimic and reproduce the effects of various gravitational levels on the body.

Three Stages

The study has multiple focus areas and will aim to uncover, among others, the musculoskeletal and psychological effects of staying in low gravity for prolonged periods.

The study divides participants into two categories; exercising subjects and non-exercising subjects. It will be conducted in three phases; the Ambulatory Period, the Bed Rest Period, and the Recovery Period.

During the ambulatory period, the study participant will move around freely inside the facility and the researchers will monitor them under normal conditions. The bed rest period, likely to last 70 days, is the time of near complete inactivity.

Finally the recovery period will span 14 days wherein the study participants will be reintroduced to normal activities.

“This study will show how much your body, tilted down slightly with head down and feet up, for 70 days, 24-hours a day, without getting out of bed, except for limited times for specific tests, is like an astronaut’s body during the weightlessness of space flight,” claims NASA.