Navigation Links
K-state researchers explore physiological effects of space travel with NASA grant
Date:8/23/2010

MANHATTAN, KAN. -- The final frontier may be no further than Manhattan, Kan., as a team of Kansas State University researchers launches a project funded by a $1.2 million grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The team -- composed of Thomas Barstow, professor of kinesiology; Steven Warren, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering; Russell Taylor, an engineer in the Electronics Design Laboratory; and Carl Ade, a doctoral student in anatomy and physiology, Salina -- will research what physical characteristics are necessary for an astronaut to perform lunar tasks. The team also will study ways to assess whether a person has enough physical capacity to perform the tasks.

"Space travel is inherently dangerous," Barstow said. "The absence of gravity, which we call microgravity or zero gravity, causes our bodies to deteriorate in a variety of ways."

A microgravity environment causes the weakening of muscles and the immune system, and it deteriorates the cardiovascular system's ability to regulate blood pressure. Barstow said this can affect an astronaut's ability to perform necessary tasks, such as climbing ladders, walking or opening doors. For the safety of the astronauts, NASA wants to make sure they are physically fit enough to perform those tasks during future missions to the moon and even Mars.

"What seems like simple tasks as part of their life on the moon or other destinations could be life threatening if the astronauts aren't strong enough to do those tasks," Barstow said.

The goal of the research, Barstow said, is to develop a simple test or a series of tests that astronauts can use in space to identify their physical conditioning and to determine if they have the capacity to perform lunar tasks.

Each year of the three-year project will focus on a different aspect of space travel. In the first year the researchers will recruit 100 people to undergo an obstacle course of tasks that NASA has identified as simulating lunar activities -- including dragging a dummy, climbing up and down ladders, pushing a wheelbarrow of rocks, and walking for 10 km. The participants also will perform physical fitness tests, such as running on a treadmill and arm exercises. Warren is developing sensors that the participants can wear to measure muscle activity and the oxygen circulating to them while performing the tasks.

"We're hoping to get a fairly complete description of each person's muscle strength, muscle endurance and cardiovascular endurance, so that with the results of those tests, we then can predict their performances during the simulated lunar tasks," Barstow said.

For the second year Warren and Taylor plan to develop a support system that can simulate different levels of gravity. The systems works by suspending the participant like a marionette -- with cables that are attached to a platform and can be adjusted to simulate the moon's gravity or gravity on mars. The system is hung from a forklift, or telehandler, so that it can move across a terrain while the subject traverses a simulated moonscape.

The third year researchers plan to observe participants performing the lunar tasks in space suits. Since the moon's gravity is one-sixth that of earth and Mars' gravity is three-eighths of the earth's, it will make some of the tasks easier than performing them on earth. But, Barstow said, the pressurized space suits that astronauts wear could make the tasks more difficult, especially tasks that require using hands to grip objects. The researchers also plan to develop special physical tests just for the arms and forearms.

At the end of the three years the researchers hope to continue working with NASA to develop countermeasures, or ways the astronauts can maintain strength and endurance in space.

Barstow said the project also creates research opportunities for kinesiology students, and he is looking for 15 to 20 students to help with research. The researchers are also looking for 100 people to participate in the study and for a building to perform the tests sheltered from the weather.


'/>"/>

Contact: Thomas Barstow
tbarsto@k-state.edu
785-532-0712
Kansas State University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. K-State professors cancer research gets boost from National Institutes of Health
2. K-State research team investigates mutated genes role in breast cancer
3. K-State researchers find gene-silencing nanoparticles may put end to pesky summer pest
4. NIH grants K-State researcher nearly $1.5 million to study antibiotic-resistant bacteria
5. K-State professor using NSF award to study the impact of nitrogen deposition on global change
6. K-State scientist to receive $1 million CAREER award
7. K-State plant pathology professor awarded international professorship for Latin America
8. K-State program will give young professionals skills to protect water resources
9. Ph.D. student in K-State plant pathology selected for international fellowship
10. K-State receives more than $780,000 to fund graduate students studying ecology, evolution, genomics
11. K-State geographer working to clarify what sustainability really means to rural decision-makers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/22/2017)... 2017 With the biometrics market to ... four technologies that innovative and agile startups must ... in the changing competitive landscape: multifactor authentication (MFA), ... "Companies can no longer afford to ... Dimitrios Pavlakis , Industry Analyst at ABI ...
(Date:2/21/2017)... 2017 Der weltweite Biobanking-Sektor wird ... einem Gespräch mit mehr als 50 Vertretern aus verschiedenen Branchen ... gilt, um diese Prognose zu realisieren. ... Zu den ... finanziellen Mittel für die Biobank, die Implementierung Zeit sparender ...
(Date:2/14/2017)... WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. , Feb. 14, 2017  Wake ... FRY-shlog), M.D., as its new chief executive officer (CEO). ... succeeds CEO John D. McConnell , M.D., who ... new position at the Medical Center, after leading it ... oversee the full scope of Wake Forest Baptist,s academic ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017  Agriculture technology company Cool Planet has ... note conversion to commercialize its Cool Terra and Cool ... developing products that are simultaneously profitable as well as ... last 18 months. This latest round of funding was ... The company,s primary product, Cool Terra, ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017 Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... Genetics Center (RGC), U.K. Biobank and GSK to generate genetic ... Biobank resource. The initiative will enable researchers to gain valuable ... for a wide range of serious and life threatening diseases. ... Genetic ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... Calif. , March 22, 2017  UBM ... proud to announce their extended partnership and the ... be headlined by the 21 st Annual ... Boston, taking place May 3-4, 2017. ... Medical Technology Association (ADVAMED) President and CEO, ...
(Date:3/22/2017)... , March 22, 2017   iSpecimen ®, ... announced that Doctors Pathology Service (DPS), a ... of the United States , has ... Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) to make human ... The novel program, announced in 2015 as ...
Breaking Biology Technology: