What a serious problem that astronauts face is solved by the new sleeping bags of NASA


Scientists have developed a high-tech sleeping bag that could solve a very serious problem that some astronauts face while living in space.

In particular, it seems that NASA’s new sleeping bags can prevent vision problems faced by astronauts. At zero gravity, fluids float on the head and crush the eyeball over time. The sleeping bag sucks fluid from the head and to the feet, compensating for the accumulation of pressure.

It is considered one of the most dangerous medical problems affecting astronauts, with some experts worried that it could jeopardize missions to Mars.

Going into details, the demanding process of becoming an astronaut from the beginning requires the candidate to have perfect 20/20 vision. However, more than half of the NASA astronauts who spent more than six months on the International Space Station (ISS) returned with varying degrees of vision problems. In one extreme case, astronaut John Philips, who was on the International Space Station for six months in 2015, returned to Earth with a 20% vision, while previously he had a perfect 20/20 visual perception.

Obviously this has important and multifaceted consequences not only for the astronauts themselves, but also for the missions they have to carry out. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in the United States are now coming up with a solution. Specifically, the head Dr. Benjamin Levine, speaking at BBC cited as an example a future multi-year mission to Mars, where the gradual deterioration of vision would be catastrophic.

“It would be a disaster if the astronauts suffered such severe damage that in the end they could not see what they were doing. “That put the whole mission in jeopardy,” he said.

Low or zero gravity in space prevents the natural cycle of fluids and so almost two liters of fluid accumulate in the skull when one is asleep. These in turn put pressure on the eyeballs, causing a flattening that can lead to vision loss.

This medical phenomenon is called spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome or SANS for short.

To combat SANS, the researchers worked with the REI outdoor tool maker to develop a sleeping bag that fits around the waist, enclosing the lower body. A vacuum cleaner-like suction device is then activated, which draws liquids to the feet, preventing them from accumulating on the head.

About a dozen people volunteered to try out the technology and the results were positive. Of course, there are still some questions that need to be answered before NASA brings this technology to the ISS, such as what is the best time astronauts should spend in this sleeping bag each day. It must also be determined whether this is necessary for any astronaut or only those at risk of developing SANS.

Regardless, Dr. Benjamin Levine hopes that SANS will not be a problem for long and will be addressed by the time NASA is ready to go to Mars.


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