In order to prepare for the human exploration of the furthest reaches of our solar system, space agencies often run experiments to see how our bodies can cope with long periods of sedentary behaviour. And my, it looks boring.
The latest of the European Space Agency's such tests have just come to a close. The Agency explains:
When astronauts return from a long flight they can need days for their bodies to recuperate from the effects of living in weightlessness. Bedrest studies recreate some aspects of spaceflight to allow scientists to probe how their bodies react and test methods for keeping future astronauts fit and healthy.
Resting in bed and getting paid for it might sound like an ideal job, but bedrest puts a huge strain on the participants as they submit themselves to days of monotony, constant tests and a strict diet without being allowed to get up for a walk, fresh air, a shower or even the toilet.
Indeed, it really doesn't sound much fun, at least according to Marc Marenco, one of the participants. “The first days of each session were the worst,” he explained. “The body needs to adapt and I had migraines and backaches." Anybody fancy a stroll? [ESA]