Germany’s space research program, the German Aerospace Center (known as the DLR), is looking for a woman with the right stuff to stay in bed for 60 days to study weightlessness.
Commissioned by NASA and the European Space Agency, the study will simulate weightlessness with sleep. Using what’s been deemed a “short-arm human centrifuge,” scientists hope to test two-thirds of study participants in the best ways to counteract the negative effects of zero-gravity.
It’s not natural for people to be in space. Human bodies are used to gravity holding bodies together, and without it things start to slip out place. The most severe of these negative effects include the deterioration of weight-bearing bones and muscles. But they also include, as the DLR notes, cardiovascular weakness, dizziness, stuffy heads, puffy faces, motion sickness, inner ear disturbances, compromised immune systems and back pain.
“The human centrifuge will also make it possible to determine which methods best counter these effects,” says the DLR’s website. “Does body position affect health? Which kinds of exercises are best? Bicycling? Jumps and squats? The answers will make for healthier space travel.” They’re answers that they hope to glean from this study.
An artist’s rendering of the Short-Arm Human Centrifuge at DLR Cologne. DLRPhoto by: DLR
“Crewed spaceflight will continue to be important in the future in order to carry out experiments in microgravity, but we must make it as safe as possible for the astronauts,” says Hansjörg Dittus, executive board member for space research and technology at the German Aerospace Center speaking to CNN.
“This bed rest study … offers space researchers from all over Europe and the USA the opportunity to work together and jointly acquire as much scientific knowledge about human physiology as possible.”
But too much of a good thing can become a problem. Staying in bed for the study won’t be like a leisurely day watching Netflix—everything from showering to going to the bathroom will have to be done without getting up. All participants will get a private room and a bed inclined at 6 ° with the head end downwards, no options for changing. Food will be chosen by nutritionists to monitor health, although they promise that a few sweets, like pancakes, will be made available from time to time.
For anyone interested, the study pays 16,500 euros, or about $18,522. While the study will look at 12 men and 12 women, right now the DLR is only looking for women to hire. Requirements include being between 24 and 55 years old, being a non-smoker, being in Cologne from September to December 2019, and speaking German. If you get the gig, sweet dreams.