Author: Leonardo Pilatti
Physiotherapist | Currently taking Master’s degree in Space Medicine
Microgravity is a fascinating topic when it comes to the study of astronaut health. When humans are exposed to microgravity, the effects on their bodies can be quite significant.
One of the first things to understand about microgravity is its effect on the musculoskeletal system. In the absence of gravity, astronauts experience a decrease in muscle mass and bone density. The lack of load-bearing activity in microgravity leads to muscle atrophy and bone loss. This can result in decreased strength and increased risk of fractures once astronauts return to Earth.
Another area of concern in microgravity is cardiovascular health. On Earth, gravity helps to pump blood towards the lower extremities. In microgravity, this effect is greatly reduced, causing fluids and blood to shift towards the upper body. This can lead to a decrease in plasma volume. Astronauts often have to undergo intense exercise regimes during their space missions to counteract these effects.
The immune system is also affected by microgravity. Studies have shown that the immune response of astronauts is suppressed during spaceflight. This can make them more vulnerable to infections and diseases. Researchers are still studying the exact mechanisms behind this phenomenon and are trying to find ways to boost the immune system during space missions.
Microgravity also has an impact on the astronaut's vision. Some astronauts have reported changes in their vision, such as an increase in visual blurring and other visual disturbances. This condition, known as spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS), is still being studied to understand its underlying causes and potential long-term effects.
In addition to physical health, microgravity can also impact an astronaut's mental well-being. The unique environment of space, with its isolation, confinement, and lack of natural daylight, can lead to psychological challenges such as mood swings, sleep disturbances, and increased stress. NASA and other space agencies provide mental health support and psychological training to help astronauts cope with these challenges.
To mitigate the negative effects of microgravity on astronaut health, space agencies invest in various countermeasures. These include exercise programs, special diets, and even medications. Additionally, researchers are constantly studying new technologies and strategies to protect and enhance astronaut health during long-duration space missions.
In conclusion, microgravity has significant effects on astronaut health, impacting various systems in the body. The study of these effects is crucial to ensure the well-being and safety of astronauts during space missions. By understanding and addressing these challenges, we can continue to push the boundaries of space exploration while also safeguarding the health of those who venture into the final frontier.
Authors: Dr Venkatesh T Lamani, Swapnil K Singh
BMS College of Engineering, Bull Temple Rd, Basavanagudi, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India 560019
Bubbles are a common occurrence in liquids, ranging from the simple rising ones to the turbulent ones that playfully form. However, behind their seemingly innocent façade lies a lesser-known and more complex side—cavitation bubbles. These unassuming bubbles possess the capacity to wreak havoc, generating destructive shock waves, emitting bursts of light, and even exhibiting unique chemical properties. In this article, we will delve into the intricate mechanics of cavitation bubbles, shedding light on their rapid collapse phase and the fascinating behaviours that accompany it.
Cavitation bubbles undergo a sequence of stages, each contributing to their overall behaviour. It all begins with the inception of minuscule gas or vapor pockets known as nuclei within the liquid. These nuclei can emerge from various sources such as dissolved air, impurities, or surface irregularities. As the liquid traverses areas of lower pressure, these nuclei gradually expand into larger bubbles due to vaporisation—a process akin to boiling, yet without the actual boiling point being reached.
The movement of cavitation bubbles is governed by the interplay between forces within the fluid flow and the intrinsic characteristics of the bubbles themselves. Forces such as drag, buoyancy, pressure gradients, and interactions with solid surfaces dictate their trajectories. Some bubbles ascend due to buoyancy, while others become entrapped in turbulent flows, swirling unpredictably. Along their trajectory, pressure gradients act as guiding forces, steering the bubbles in specific directions.
Yet, the most intriguing facet of cavitation bubbles lies in their eventual collapse. As these bubbles transition from low-pressure regions to areas of higher pressure, they face escalating external pressure. This rapid compression leads to their dramatic collapse, referred to as the bubble collapse phase. During this phase, the confined space witnesses the generation of extreme pressures and temperatures, resulting in the formation of shock waves, microjets, and even flashes of light. This release of energy significantly contributes to the inherently destructive nature of cavitation, capable of causing damage to nearby surfaces.
The collapse transpires in a fleeting instant, lasting only microseconds. The energy unleashed results in temperatures surpassing the sun's surface heat and pressures that rival the deepest ocean trenches. Shock waves and microjets formed in this dramatic event have the power to erode metals, damage propellers, and influence chemical reactions within the surrounding liquid. Researchers are particularly enthused by the potential applications of this released energy, spanning from catalysing intricate chemical reactions to advancing medical treatments.
Despite extensive research, comprehending the intricate dynamics of cavitation bubbles remains a formidable challenge. The intricate dance of fluid dynamics, coupled with the unpredictable nature of turbulence, renders achieving comprehensive understanding an ongoing pursuit. Researchers employ numerical simulations and experiments to gain insights, yet many aspects of this phenomenon are still awaiting exploration. Unravelling the mechanisms underlying bubble collapse and its aftermath stands as a continuing endeavour, driven by the desire to harness its energy while mitigating its potential harm.
Author: Luis E. Luque Álvarez
Violin Teacher, Kittenberger Kálmán Primary & Art School of Nagymaros, Hungary. Member of the European Low Gravity Research Association (ELGRA), and member of the Education Advisory Board for NASA’s Eclipse Soundscapes Project (ES: CSP)
Are the right polyphonies of orbits contributing to the rise of life in the universe?
Sonification is a multidisciplinary method that complements data visualisation through adding an auditory component that facilitates the interpretation of visual features. The origin of sonification dates to 1908, when Hans Geiger and Walther Müller experimented with the sound coming from tubes of ionizing gas and radiation. Edmund Edward Fournier d’Albe later invented the Optophone, a device that scans text and transforms it into time-varying chords of tones, enabling people who are blind to identify and understand letters through sonification. This method has become popular in astronomy, though its real roots can be traced back further in history if you consider the works of Pythagoras, who proposed that planets all give off a unique hum based on their orbital revolution, while the “Musica Universalis” developed by Johannes Keppler highlighted the orbital path of each celestial body as individual voices in a planetary polyphony. Andreas Werckmeister subsequently developed his temperaments and tuning systems based on Kepler’s theories, which later influenced the sequences and structures composed by Johann Sebastian Bach.
This connection from Kepler to Bach continues to be investigated to the present day by musicologists. In fact, in can be argued that without the musical developments of Pythagoras, Kepler, Werckmeister and Bach taken from astronomical principles, the musical systems and knowledge of our postmodern times could be very differently structured, at least considering western music. Astronomical studies seek the combination of different celestial harmonies or polyphonies from the orbits that could have a direct relation with the essential conditions for life in evolving protoplanetary systems, different stars, planets transformation or even the connection to black holes or dark matter (see below YouTube videos).
Author: Dr. Paul Zilberman
Medical Doctor, Anaesthetist, Hadassah Medical Center Jerusalem, Israel
Space is very different, in many aspects.
This post does not attempt to address the many changes the human body experiences in space, such as volume modifications in body compartments, fluid shifts, structural configuration in receptor* morphology and, as a consequence, possible variations in pharmacology response, etc.
* For the lay reader, a receptor is a special structure on the surface of a cell, for example, that functions as a "receiving point" on which a chemical substance acts in a unique way (like a key – lock mechanism) and a specific reaction is generated (like a muscle contraction) or inhibited (like a cork closing a bottle and blocking the passage of a fluid). These complex structural changes modify many biological reactions, as well as the body’s response to medications.
Rather, this post presents some of the technical challenges that an anaesthesiologist may encounter in space.
On Earth gravity keeps everyone’s feet on the ground. Different pieces of equipment can be repositioned depending on the procedure, machinery can be brought in as needed (XRay scans in orthopaedics, for instance), electric cables can be switched to other convenient wall sockets etc. In a fixed volume space capsule, you don’t have all these possibilities. Everything is measured for maximum volume efficiency. Taking into consideration that anything can and will float if not properly anchored, we can imagine what an “anaesthesia dance” could happen!
On Earth an anaesthesia workstation is always present in the OR. Depending on its complexity its volume can vary between a medium size fridge to a large double-doored one, just put on its side. You don’t have this amount of deposit in a space cabin, but let’s suppose for one moment that you do - you then need an Anaesthesia Gas Scavenging System (AGSS), which removes the anaesthesia gases that have leaked out or at the end of the procedure. On Earth, these gases are expelled into the atmosphere (there is a lot to talk about this and the greenhouse effects too) and the air currents around any medical facility carry them away. In space you don’t have this. Any gas must be expelled using energy, an active process. Otherwise, the whole cabin will become a big anaesthesia machine with all crew members affected. And, speaking of energy, an anaesthesia workstation is also powered by electricity, which is a limited resource in space, depending on the surface of the solar (or light in general) panels. This energy must be stored and used for other life maintenance systems as well, of which a critical example is the Sabatier reactor that provides oxygen.
The simplicity and portability of the necessary equipment makes this type of anesthesia attractive. For peripheral neural blocks all you need is a simple ultrasound machine and dedicated needles. The potential drawbacks are that the technique/s need to be taught on Earth but their “transposition” to space is a bit problematic. If the spinal/epidural anaesthesia is relatively simple to learn, the USG (ultrasound guided) blocks are more challenging. Furthermore, the bodily fluid shift due to the lack of gravity causes many tissues to change their tridimensional appearance, leading to increased difficulty in performing the block.
The cardiovascular responses that accompany spinal/epidural anaesthesia on Earth, in terms of heart rate and blood pressure, are different in space. There may be a lack of reactivity so a certain reduction in blood pressure, for example, might not be compensated.
We need to remember that the hostile environment in space, especially radiation, affects not only the human body, but also many sensitive electronic components of medical equipment, leading to possible dysfunction. Monitors can potentially de-calibrate and all the information you receive may become inaccurate.
Preparing and administering a fluid on Earth is routine, however, the lack of gravitation in space poses other challenges: air and fluids do not mix. It is called “lack of buoyancy”. Unless we use special equipment to separate fluids from air nothing can be delivered to the patient. This statement is true also for the anaesthesia vaporiser (a special closed recipient that contains the anaesthesia substance); not only can you not simply fill it the way it would be done on Earth, but even if you could, the anaesthesia liquid that becomes vapour cannot separate from the fluid from which it originates. It just cannot exit the vaporiser. Below is a small example of how liquids behave in space and what happens when a liquid exits a recipient:
The same is true for another type of anaesthesia, called TIVA = Total Intra Venous Anaesthesia. This technique uses a dedicated syringe pump that pushes different anaesthesia substances through an intra venous line. It’s a useful technique both in terms of volume and energy expenditure, but again we face the same problems: how to fill the syringe without air bubbles and how to protect the electronics of the syringe pump (in fact a computer in all respects) from the deleterious influences of space radiation!
As you can see, space medicine is a very important topic and many people dream of its future use. Yet, we still have a long way to go! With the advent of intermediary space “stops” and the continuous development of new technologies, every challenge will be solved, sooner or later.
Author: Dr. Yohana David Laiser, MD
Medical Doctor | Space Exploration Enthusiast | Aspiring Public Health Specialist
The government of Tanzania has set itself a goal to venture into space exploration by launching its first ever Communication Satellite, scheduled for the end of 2023 following similar endeavors by other countries in the region. This daring spirit shown by the government is also reflected by a rising number of space-related activities, establishment of privately owned companies venturing into space exploration, and a germinating stalk of space ecosystem in Tanzania, most notably in the country’s commercial city of Dar es Salaam.
One of record-breaking events to ever happen in Tanzania is the NASA International Space Apps Challenge, which is the largest global hackathon organised by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States of America and partner organisations from all over the world, such as ESA, CSA, JAXA, ISRO and many more.
Author: InnovaSpace Team
Working towards a globally inclusive and diverse network of space professionals, researchers, entrepreneurs, students & enthusiasts - Space Without Borders
Time to catch-up with our colleague from the east, Chris Yuan, who very enthusiastically and capably established the Ursa Minor project in China, under the umbrella of the Planetary Expedition Commander Academy (PECA). It involves the development of new technologies and innovative training courses to encourage and inspire a future generation of space science researchers and astronauts.
As previously reported in 2022, Chris and his students learned how to perform the Evetts-Russomano CPR technique underwater on a manikin while diving, as the water simulates the weightlessness that is present in microgravity. This practice now forms part of a larger course, the Ursa Minor Interstellar Expedition Program, giving the opportunity for 12- to 18-year-olds to participate in an underwater space science training camp.
Author: Tobias Leach
Medical Student, University of Bristol | iBSc Physiology at King’s College London
The first edition of the InnovaSpace Journal Club was dedicated to a prospective cohort study on jugular venous flow in astronauts aboard the ISS. From this study, the issue of jugular vein thrombus formation arose, which led to some fascinating discussion on how we could possibly manage and mitigate this novel risk to astronaut health.
Therefore, I thought it appropriate to use the second edition of the InnovaSpace journal club to cover the issue of bleeding in space.
Major Haemorrhage in space – How can it arise?
How can it be managed?
Should we worry about it?
PAPER PRESENTED & DISCUSSED:
We used a 2019 literature review which evaluated different haemostatic techniques in remote environments and proposed a major haemorrhage protocol for a Mars mission.
The article itself stressed that while the estimated risk for major haemorrhage on a Mars mission was not very high, there were still many possible causes for a big bleed such as trauma and high dose radiation. Additionally, the changes to circulatory physiology observed in microgravity may mean astronauts are less able to cope with even small amounts of blood loss.
While the literature search itself left a lot to be desired as only 3 of the 27 papers were randomised controlled trials (RCTs), the results were interesting.
Cosmic Conundrum: Unexplained Discovery at Interstellar Meteor Crash Site Sparks Scientific Intrigue
Author: Swapnil K Singh FRSA, India
Undergraduate: Astronomy Research & Mechanical Engineering - Astrophysicist of the future!
In an extraordinary scientific expedition, researchers embarked on a quest to investigate remnants of the first recognised interstellar meteor, IM1. As they explored the crash site, an astonishing revelation emerged, challenging our understanding of cosmic phenomena and hinting at the possibility of extraterrestrial technology.
During their initial examination of the crash site, the team encountered a considerable amount of volcanic dust particles on their magnetic sled. These tiny particles, measuring less than a tenth of a millimetre, were diligently removed from the sled's magnets using a painter's brush.
However, it was the presence of a peculiar wire, labelled IS1–2, that truly astonished the researchers. Despite being dragged through the ocean water by the ship Silver Star, the wire remained firmly attached to one of the magnets. The scientists proposed that the volcanic magnetic particles acted as a magnet, effectively holding the wire in place against the force of the ocean current.
Driven by curiosity, Ryan Weed and Jeff Wynn conducted an in-depth analysis of the wire's composition. Using an X-ray fluorescence analyser manufactured by Bruker, they compared its composition to known human-made alloys. The results revealed significant peaks in manganese (Mn) and platinum (Pt) on the periodic table. Further investigation unveiled that the wire was composed of a manganese-platinum alloy (MnPt). However, the relative abundance of manganese and platinum in IS1–2 diverged significantly from the composition of MnPt alloys typically used in laboratory non-corroding electrodes. This perplexing deviation suggested the possibility of an origin beyond our world.
Author: Tomas Ducai
Biology (microbiology/genetics) graduate, University of Vienna - Space (medicine) enthusiast
"For most people, this is as close to being an astronaut, as you’ll ever get. It’s leaving planet Earth behind and entering an alien world.“ - Mary Frances Emmons - Editor-in-chief Scuba Diving, Sport Diver & The Undersea Journal magazines
Mary Frances Emmons puts into words the indescribable atmosphere of scuba diving in which the boundaries become blurred between Earth and the sky above, or at least, to be more precise, the depths of space. It is this mixture of feelings that I want to experience – diving into the element of water, which is essential for life and where physical disabilities may not matter. I have been active in the world of space exploration for over a year now and am truly interested in promoting inclusion in the space sciences and analog space missions. I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of respected people and professionals doing amazing work with great passion in their respective fields, and they have also been keen to help and support me to realize my dreams
A particular person who has shaped my dreams in concrete terms is Slovakia’s one and only aquanaut (underwater analog astronaut) and Chief Scientific Officer of the Hydronaut Project (unique underwater lab serving as a research facility for survival training in limited/extreme environments) - Miroslav Rozložník. Miro is an experienced scuba-dive instructor, who I met in Prague at an international analog astronaut community event. He offered to help me experience the unique underwater atmosphere through introducing me to the world of scuba-diving, a truly cherished offer that I gratefully accepted! At the same time, I knew that having a basic introduction to scuba diving may also enhance my chances of being selected as one of the three analog parastronauts for upcoming analog missions at the LunAres analog research station in Poland, especially if underwater mission experiments are being considered.
Author: Dr Dolly Daou
International expert in design business innovation and strategies - International experience in design pedagogy/research, leading philanthropic associations and higher education programs and community projects in Australia, Asia, Europe and in the Middle East. (Visit: https://dollydaou.org/)
I was inspired to write this blog in response to a post I saw on social media, where during an interview, one of the attendants asked: Who invented gravity and why do we need it? To the best of the attendant’s knowledge gravity was invented by Isaac Newton. These simple yet complex questions demonstrate the fragility of our knowledge and appreciation of gravity and reveal the inter-connection of these questions to each other. To be clear the reflections on gravity in this blog are not scientific, rather I am exploring the significance of gravity in our everyday as a design researcher. Throughout history the chain reaction of scientific explorations by Aristotle, to Bruno, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, much later Einstein, and then Hawking led to the discovery and adaptation of the theory of gravity. Although Newton could not explain the origin of gravity he did adapt Johannes Kepler’s law of gravitational theory, invented calculus and gave this force its name: gravity. Through this exploration, I open the scope of discussion for other disciplines to examine the power of this invisible force in our universe. Through interior and food design I demonstrate how gravity controls our daily lives from lifting an ordinary object to launching a rocket into space or designing a sustainable food system. We rely on gravitational forces of the planets during our interaction with our environment, especially in the food system gravity plays an integral part in the production, distribution, manufacturing and consumption of food. The images below of the Chinese mountains and Australian ocean show how the food system on our planet Earth is connected through a force that holds everything together called: gravity.
If we understand gravity, we understand the story of creation of the universe, that grounds the human existence and conditions our neurology and physiology. We under-estimated the value of gravity in our everyday, which usually goes un-noticed. The complexity of questioning the origin and benefits of gravity lies in the simplicity of these questions; in the presumption that we should all know the answers. These questions are especially relevant now during our current exploration to the extra-terrestrial inhabitation with lower or zero-gravity environments, which reveal the significance of gravity as a un-negotiable part of our everyday life.
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