Did you ever dream of becoming an astronaut when you were little?
Now could be your chance! Well, you wouldn’t technically become an astronaut, and you wouldn’t actually travel into space; however, this could be the opportunity to get as close as most dreamers possibly imagine. Did I mention you get paid a lot of money for participating?
NASA, the German Space Agency (DLR), and the European Space Agency (ESA) are conducting a collaborative four-month study titled AGBRESA (Artificial Gravity Bed Rest – European Space Agency) at the Envihab facility, located in Cologne, Germany.
The team is looking for female volunteers between the ages of 24 and 55, who are fluent in German and hold a valid passport. If selected, you could become a voluntary “terrestrial astronaut” in an important bed rest study. The study will be conducted from September through December 2019, and upon completion, the terrestrial astronaut will be compensated almost $19,000. Hey, that’s not too bad for four months of lying in bed.
NASA, ESA, and DLR are researching how the body changes in weightlessness through the bed rest study. The results of this study will help scientists develop countermeasures to reduce the negative effects on astronauts while in space. The study will also focus on the human physiological, neurological, and behavioral outcomes of spaceflight.
Now, this is the volunteer’s (a.k.a. terrestrial astronaut) contribution to the study: They will spend the ENTIRE time in bed with a six-degree head-down tilt. They will eat, exercise, and even shower in the head-down position. This causes their bodies to adapt as if they were in space. They will be continuously monitored by researchers and cared for by the staff.
The results? Researches can gain a better understanding of how and why the body and mind change while weightless. This will allow measures to be developed that will help astronauts on space missions.
What does one do for four months in bed, in a downward tilt?
“You can use the time for you," the DLR says (translated from German). "Become part of the crew and work on the team with our experienced researchers. Leave the daily stress behind you and take time for some things that might be too short: how about a Netflix marathon or all the volumes Harry Potter by browse? Be there -- you count!"
NASA has a bit more realistic and pragmatic approach and offers suggestions for the volunteers’ experience.
“What can you do in bed? Boredom sets in quickly. Daily routine — showering, getting dressed, eating, exercising — takes a lot of time when you cannot stand up to do them. There is continuous data collection, such as heart rate, nutrient absorption, energy expenditure, and even the participants’ mood. Diet is strictly controlled giving participants little choice as to what or when they eat. Participants are encouraged to set a goal such as learning a new language or taking a class online. Family and friends are allowed to visit which can offer a welcomed distraction.”
To request more information, contact (remember, you have to speak German) Tel. +49 2203 601 3472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If accepted as a participant of the study, you will not only help science and the welfare of future and existing astronauts, but you will most likely gain a self-awareness that you may not have expected. Oh, and yes -- some serious money!
Here’s to coming close to that childhood dream!
Do you think you could spend four months in a tilted bed, while always being observed? Let us know what you think about this study in the comments!