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Now, I do enjoy a good lounge around the bed. Warm bedclothes, nice light pajamas, a couple of thick pillows under head; it’s wonderful. Unless I am sick, however, anything more that seven hours begins to be uncomfortable. Now imagine lying in bed for 60 days. You can’t get up to wash. You can’t get up to eat. You can’t get up to go to the bathroom. You lie in bed for 60 days all in the name of science.

Welcome to W.I.S.E. (Women International Space Simulation for Exploration). Comprising of two group of dedicated volunteers, these women offered their still living bodies to science for 3.5 months to study the effects a prolonged zero gravity environment will have on those of their gender. The reason for this study was to prepare interested parties on what will happen to the first women astronauts as they fly to Mars.

First the 24 women (per group) were split into 3 groups: The Control group, the Vitamins group, and the Exercise group. The Control group, being the laziest of the lot did nothing special.

The Vitamins Group was given supplemental vitamins. The Exercise group was allowed to exercise regularly. They spent all with a -6 degree down angle relative to the head. This simulates the zero-g. As bodily fluid rushed to the upper body they experienced side effects such as head fullness (their words), stuffy nose, full stomach and the frequent need to urinate. After a couple days, these symptoms subsided and they were free to lounge around as they like.

While lying around doing nothing, they were subject to various medical exams testing how this state of affected bone density, metabolism, heart function, etc. They got some personal time during the day to talk to family and it took them quite a while to perform hygiene each day. I can’t imagine having to shower on my back. Dropping the soap off the side of the bed would be a major drag. Some of them took language or technical classes. Other than not being able to get up, some of the regular complaints were that the food got monotonous. They fed them lots of fruits and vege’s, a little meat. Some of them complained it was too much food.

So after all the fun and games, the 60 days expired and the nasty scientists made them get up and walk. Although they hadn’t forgotten how to walk, their balance and coordination were inhibited, more so for the Vitamins and Control groups. They experienced soreness in muscles and joints and on the bottoms of their feet.

And to add insult to injury, after the initial 60 days of bed rest, they had 40 more days of tests and “recovery” which probably included lots of mirror gazing, envying of the skinnier volunteers, and much “Oh I’m so fat, I’ll never get into my size sixes again!!!”.

All in all, I am impressed that they were able to do this kind of thing. I wouldn’t be able to. I’d go screaming mad after the first couple of days.

Further Reading:
Study Website
European Space Agency article