Home / News / World /  Interested in space travel? This experiment lets you feel lack of gravity on Earth

The ESA SciSpacE team and a team of The European Space Agency scientists have reportedly come together to design experiment that focuses on effects microgravity has on the human body due to “weightlessness." The experiment is being conducted to gauge the impact of a wide array of changes that occur in the body of astronauts due to lack of gravity during space missions. 

According to The European Space Agency statement, “during missions on the International Space Station, astronauts’ bodies go through a wide array of changes due to lack of gravity - everything from vision to cardiovascular health to bone density is affected. Though astronauts exercise and take supplements to mitigate some of these effects, understanding more about deconditioning in microgravity could allow physicians to design better treatments." The statement additionally notes that “this wouldn’t just be useful for spacefarers; it could also improve treatment strategies for common health conditions here on Earth."

In order to achieve this feat, “the ESA SciSpacE team and a team of European scientists designed Vivaldi, which takes place in the MEDES Space Clinic (Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology) in Toulouse, France – one of the only facilities in Europe which can host such studies." 

So, what exactly is Vivaldi? 

According to statement, “Vivaldi is an experiment that focuses on what’s known as dry immersion – a ground-based analogue of the effects microgravity has on the body. As the name suggests, dry immersion involves being immersed in water for long periods, while staying dry. To do this, participants are clothed in a waterproof fabric and laid in specially-designed water baths. Their body is then submerged to above the torso, with a fitted waterproof tarp keeping their arms and head above water."

It is important to note that “during Vivaldi, participants spend five whole days in this position. Meals are taken with the assistance of a floating board and a neck pillow. For bathroom breaks and other activities that require removal from water, participants are assisted onto a trolley, maintaining their laid-back position, and temporarily removed from the water by staff. Submerging participants in this way takes weight off the body, inducing microgravity-like alterations to neurological, cardiovascular, and metabolic systems, to name just a few. Fluids within the body shift, and physiological processes begin to resemble those seen in astronauts during spaceflight."

The ESA SciSpacE team is reportedly testing to see just how similar it is to actual spaceflight noting that “through Vivaldi, they hope to identify specifically what changes happen to the body during weightlessness, how long those changes take to happen, and how they compare to both spaceflight and other ground-based microgravity analogues."

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