The Eyes Have It

New research may have come up with a solution to a problem that’s a huge issue for long- term space living or crewed missions to Mars and beyond.

The problem many astronauts face when enduring long duration space missions is that microgravity (sometimes called zero gravity – or the slang term ZeeGee in my Joe Ballen books) is that a lot of human biological functions rely on operating in an environment with gravity, and don’t respond well when outside that.

One of the more worrying aspects is that bodily fluids that are usually pulled down in our bodies no longer have that force working on them and, as a result, pressure builds up inside the skull, which squeezes on the eyeballs, changing their shape and causing vision problems. NASA has seen these problems with more than 50% of its astronauts over the years–so this is a serious issue.

The new research uses a kind of “sleeping bag” with a pressure pump that sucks air from the bottom, creating a suction force that encourages blood to move that way from the head, simulating the natural force humans would normally feel on a planet.

NASA “ZeeGee” sleeping bag

If this works, it’ll be a big step toward developing long-term sustainable space habitats, and might very well be a key technology in opening up the possibility of longer crewed missions. Although, for larger constructions, having a rotating station would provide a much more welcoming environment, especially for “regular” tourists. Can’t wait to see where this will go!

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