Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Artificial Gravity? (part 2)
Why is weightlessness a problem? We've had astronauts in space before, and zero-gravity environments have been discovered to impose a number of physical problems, affecting cardiovascular functions, bone density, neurological activity, and other physiological systems. There are other debilitating effects as well, including muscular atrophy and balance disorders. Astronauts that have lived in space for weeks have suffered calcium deficiencies, which results in weakened bones that are easily broken if the astronaut bumps into something or falls. A fall is more likely on earth, too, because of the lower muscle mass experienced from life in space. Living in a zero-g environment can also initially cause nausea and disorientation, and can adversely affect astronaut performance and jeopardize mission goals. A famous incident occurred during the Apollo 9 mission in 1969. Rusty Schweickart was unable to perform a planned spacewalk because of his nausea. If he had vomited while in his spacesuit, imagine the problems of the fluid spreading through his helmet, obscuring vision and possibly interfering with the breathing apparatus.