Future astronaut equipment may combat bone and muscle loss

Monday, one The astronaut capsule, which looked like a giant orange juice machine, splashed into the Atlantic Ocean, bringing the four crew members back to the influence of Earth’s gravity.These astronauts spent six months International Space Station, So the gravity pulling their bodies now feels familiar to them, but also strange.

This team named SpaceX Crew-2 has been in orbit for most of the past six months doing space science work, such as testing”Tissue chip“Small-scale analogues of human organs. But they also kill time like gym rats: 6 days a week, they do 2.5 hours of exercise to reduce the damage to the body caused by living in space. Space, Like they said, It’s difficult. But this is especially difficult for humans. radiation, Lack of gravity and living in a confined space will cause losses.

“Since the first space mission, NASA has been concerned about the impact of space flight on the human body,” said elemental scientist Michael Stenger. Human health countermeasures, The agency’s department is committed to understanding how space flight affects physiology and mitigating these effects. A big problem is that even if you do experiments all day, living in orbit is physiologically similar to being in bed. “It’s a lot like lying idle in space,” he said.

When you don’t need to counteract gravity, your muscles and bones lose strength because these parts of the anatomy follow a “use it or lose it” philosophy.Muscles can Shrinking, Like an astronaut lying on a sofa playing fall out All day long. Bones lose mass: their formation and decomposition are based on the force of gravity and muscle use they endure every day.After six months in space, the proximal femur on the leg can be avoided 10% Its quality needs several years to be restored to the ground.

Stenger said that space for the cardiovascular system is also difficult: “Your heart no longer needs to pump so hard to maintain blood pressure, so your heart will become weaker.” In the middle of the year, his heart shrank More than a quarter, To adapt to new conditions. Under the influence of gravity, the heart can return to normal on its own and does not seem to suffer long-term damage.

Scientists are not quite Understand why, But the spine of astronauts will also become longer in space, and their height will increase by a few inches. Travelers will shrink to the normal size on Earth, but after the flight, astronauts have a higher risk of herniated discs, which may be related to these spinal displacements. In addition, their suits and equipment must be designed according to their size-if these sizes change, the design will become complicated, especially for long-distance travel.

In order to make astronauts’ internal organs suitable for their missions in space and to maintain their health after they return to Earth, human health countermeasures have tried to correct these physiological errors-partly fitness equipment built for space. The advanced resistance training device is a space-based Bowflex: it uses a vacuum cylinder to generate hundreds of pounds of resistance, and microgravity athletes can reconfigure it for deadlifts, squats or bench presses for two hours, including the time it takes to reconfigure Equipment and perform some recovery. The International Space Station is also equipped with treadmills and bicycle machines, which astronauts use for 30-minute interval training.

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