HERA XV underway: The second of four 45-day missions ends on Dec. 11.

 

HERA XIV ended early due to Hurricane Harvey. Undaunted, the flight analogs team pushed forward with HERA XV, the third 45-day Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) mission. It began on Saturday, October 28 in Building 220, with an ingress the evening before.

This mission will focus on the effects of sleep deprivation and ways to mitigate these effects, along with several other mission objectives. For details please visit the research tile of the HERA website. Check back to this site for crew photos and to follow the mission clock.

HERA XV will end on Dec. 11 and will be followed by two more missions for this campaign. This is one more mission than was planned for HERA’s Campaign 4.

Lying in Bed for the Sake of Science: NASA Co-Sponsors Bed Rest Study in Germany

Twelve volunteers will arrive this week at the German Space Agency’s (DLR) Institute of Aerospace Medicine’s :envihab facility to lie in bed for a month in the name of science. NASA’s Human Research Program, in partnership with DLR, is sponsoring investigations in this study to observe and analyze the effects of fluid pressure on astronauts’ eyes and optic nerves.

DLR Facility in Germany
German Space Agency’s (DLR) Institute of Aerospace Medicine’s :envihab facility in Cologne, Germany where a bed rest study, co-sponsored by NASA’s Human Research Program, is taking place in October and November 2017.
Credits: NASA

 

This study, known as VaPER (VIIP and Psychological :envihab Research), is part of NASA’s Flight Analogs Program. An analog environment is a situation on Earth that produces effects on the body similar to those experienced in space, both physical, mental and emotional. These studies are expected to help advance the understanding of how to keep humans safe as we move from lower-Earth orbit missions into deep space exploration.

Lying in Bed for the Sake of Science: NASA co-sponsors bed rest study in Germany
Participants may keep their cell phones or use computers during the bedrest study, but they must maintain a six-degree head-down tilt at all times.
Credits: DLR

 

The participants in VaPER will spend 30 days in bed with a six-degree head-down tilt and breathe air with 0.5% carbon dioxide. By comparison, carbon dioxide makes up about 0.04% of the air we breathe on Earth.

On the International Space Station, and many other space vehicles, carbon dioxide levels are higher than on Earth, due, in part, to the enclosed environment in which the astronauts live and work. Constant forced air circulation throughout the station ensures that pockets of CO2 that do form are quickly dispersed, and that the crew members always have plenty of clean air to breathe. The head-down tilt in the VaPER study will simulate the weightless nature of space, where the fluids in your body shift toward your head. These conditions will mimic the environment thought to cause vision problems experienced by some astronauts.

Lying in Bed for the Sake of Science: NASA co-sponsors bed rest study in Germany
Official patch of the VaPER bedrest study, a NASA co-sponsored investigations to observe and analyze the effects of fluid pressure on astronauts’ eyes and optic nerves.
Credits: NASA

 

“On October 2, they admitted the first two subjects to begin,” said Lisa Spence, Flight Analogs Project Manager. “The next day two more arrived. They will continue this every day until they have admitted all 12.”

The subjects will complete two-weeks of baseline data collection and training then “the first two who came in will go to bed where they will remain for 30 days,” Spence explained. “The day after that, the next two will go to bed then the day after that the next two. Each set of two will have the same schedule, it’s just offset by a day from the others.”

Bed rest studies offer scientists ways to see how the body adapts to weightlessness. Participants must live, eat, and even shower in the head-down position – and in this case – in the carbon dioxide environment. This causes their bodies to adapt as if they were in space. They are continuously monitored to understand how their bodies change and why. Results allow countermeasures to be devised that will help astronauts on space missions, as well as bed-ridden people on Earth.

While very structured, the participants’ days may not be as boring as it would seem. Participants are encouraged to set a goal such as learning a new language or taking a class online.

Additionally, daily routines, such as showering, take a lot of time when you cannot stand up to do them. There is continuous data collection including several MRIs to observe potential changes in either brain or eye structures. Blood pressure, heart rate, nutrient absorption, energy expenditure, bone mass and even the participants’ mood will also be monitored. Diet is strictly controlled giving participants little choice as to what or when they eat. Participants get to keep their phones to maintain contact with family and friends, although visitors to the facility will not be allowed.

NASA is “SIRIUS” About Its Analog Missions

Before humans will go to Mars, NASA has practice missions on Earth. The SIRIUS missions are the latest spaceflight analogs NASA is utilizing to help us understand the risks of travel further into the solar system. This ground-based analog is a complement to human research being conducted on the International Space Station, such as Scott Kelly’s One-Year Mission. These missions are paving the way to learn how the human body reacts in unique environments.

An analog environment is a situation on Earth that produces effects on the body similar to those experienced in space, physically, mentally and emotionally. These studies are expected to help advance human spaceflight from lower-Earth orbit missions into deep space exploration. NASA is associated with at least 15 analog environments throughout the world. The SIRIUS analog takes place at the Institute for Bio-Medical Problems (IBMP) in Russia. Other NASA-associated analogs are in Germany, Canada, Antarctica, and at sites in the United States.

SIRIUS Logo
SIRIUS Logo
Credits: IBMP

 

The SIRIUS (Scientific International Research In a Unique terrestrial Station) missions are the first time NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) partners with Russia’s IBMP Ground-based Experimental Complex (NEK) to conduct a series of analog missions. The first of these missions is SIRIUS-17, named because of its 17-day duration and it will take place in 2017. The mission is to begin on Nov. 7.

“The SIRIUS-17 mission, from a NASA perspective, is designed to test the capabilities of the Russian facility,” said Lisa Spence, Flight Analogs Program Manager. “We want to exercise the facility capabilities, mission planning and integration procedures to identify challenges or issues now as opposed to during a longer duration mission.”

Mars 500 Facility (interior)
Elevated view of the IBMP facility where the SIRIUS-17 two-week analog mission begins Nov. 7, 2017. Participants will spend 17 days in a simulated space mission environment.
Credits: IBMP

 

The goal is for NASA to work with the IBMP to conduct at least three follow-on missions: a four-month mission in 2018, an eight-month mission in 2019, and a 12-month mission in 2020.

SIRIUS-17 will have six human participants who will be isolated and confined in a mock-spacecraft habitat for the mission’s duration. During the mission, they will be performing a suite of scientific experiments. Training for the crew began the week of Oct. 9.

One of the reason NASA chose the Russian facility is that it is a dedicated facility. This means that during the mission, its purpose is to execute the simulated space missions and research activities targeted for an isolation environment, according to Spence. “Also, they have done successful long-duration isolation missions at the IBMP facility in the past, even up to 520 days. They have demonstrated the ability to do the type of missions we are planning to work up to,” she said.

More than 40 scientific experiments have been selected for SIRIUS-17, which will place significant demands on crew time. HRP personnel developed a unified science requirements document, which helps in the development of the mission timeline, and maximizes the science data capture.

HERA 14 Began on Saturday, Aug. 5

PHOTO DATE: Aug 04, 2017
LOCATION: B220
SUBJECT: Official crew photo for HERA Campaign 4 Mission 2.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel

The second 45-day Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) mission began on Saturday, Aug. 5 in Building 220, with an ingress the evening before. The four-member crew are Richard Addante, Paul Haugen, Shelley Cazares and Reinhold Povilaitis.

This mission will focus on the effects of sleep deprivation and ways to mitigate these effects, along with several other mission objectives. For details please visit the research tile of the HERA website. Check back to this site for crew photos and to follow the mission clock.

HERA 14 will end on Sept. 18 and will be followed by two more missions for this campaign.

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA’s HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber

PHOTO DATE: June 19, 2017. LOCATION: BLDG. 220. SUBJECT: Egress of crew for HERA Campaign 4 Mission 1 crew. PHOTOGRAPHER: Josh Valcarcel

Goodbye HERA, Hello Sleep: NASA’s HERA XIII Crew Returns Home to Slumber

After 45 days in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the four-man crew can hardly hold their eyes open. This mission was the first of its kind to last 45 days, as well as incorporate sleep reduction for research purposes.

“The sleep deprivation was really difficult,” said, James Titus, HERA crew member. “It really hindered our normalcy. We are used to working and living our lives at a higher level. During this mission the sleep reduction, the no-nap rule and limited caffeine – went hand in hand to really slow us down,” he said.

HERA is one of several ground-based analogs used by NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) to research ways to help astronauts move from lower-Earth orbit to deep space explorations. A spaceflight analog is a situation on Earth that produces physical and mental effects on the body similar to those experienced in space. Participants are volunteers that must pass a physical and psychological assessment to qualify.

During this thirteenth HERA mission, crew members went through many of the motions of a real deep space mission without ever actually leaving the Johnson Space Center. This was the fourth in a series of studies, called campaigns, with progressively longer simulated mission lengths. In this campaign, this was the first of four 45-day simulated missions. Previous campaigns studied seven-day, 14-day, and 30-day missions. Longer mission lengths allow for more research studies and more data points relevant to longer duration spaceflight missions.

Several research studies utilize a limited sleep protocol for the four missions of Campaign 4. During Mission 1, crewmembers were allowed to sleep five hours per night, five days per week with a recovery period of two days where they could sleep eight hours each night. No naps and limited caffeine are included in this protocol.

This practice allows researchers to test the use of habitat lighting as a method of combating crewmember fatigue. It also allows for the evaluation of the usability of bio-mathematical models to predict crewmember fatigue. Team cohesion, performance, and interpersonal relationships are also tested under these conditions.

Despite the no siesta rule, the crew took their mission tasks seriously. As with past crews, they particularly enjoyed the extravehicular activity (EVA) on an asteroid conducted with virtual reality technology. “It was fun learning to maneuver in three dimensions, and going through the decompression protocol just like a real astronaut would. It was fascinating to me,” said Timothy Evans, HERA crew member.

Not only are the HERA crews isolated from the outside world, they must unplug during their mission. “It was really a little bit disorienting,” said Mark Settles, HERA crew member. “You get in this mode of addressing electronic communications on a daily basis. It was like stepping back 20 years by having a reduced level of constant input of demands on your time from electronic communication.”

This was a rather competitive group. One of their tasks was to use the robotic arm to grab a transport vehicle while dealing with sleep deprivation. They had 12 chances to do so and were given a score on their efforts. “The score was very important to all of us. We’d strive to get better. The ROBoT [Robotic On-Board Trainer] and cognition had a level of inter-competiveness with us,” said John Kennard, HERA crew member.

When asked their favorite thing to do while on the mission, there was a consensus: Sleep. They also enjoyed playing board games and watching movies together while not working on mission tasks. Upon splashdown at the end of the simulated mission, they planned to call their families and grab some greasy, salty fast food. But soon afterward, they all planned on catching some Zs!

Mission 2 of Campaign 4 will begin on Aug. 5. The Test Subject Screening group is accepting curriculum vitaes (CV) for healthy, non-smoking volunteers, ages 30 to 55 for future missions. Volunteers will be compensated and must pass a physical and psychological assessment to qualify. Volunteers wishing to become test subjects should e-mail their CV to jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or call 281-212-1492.

Volunteer for Simulated Space Mission!

 Types of Analogs

The high-fidelity space simulation HERA is recruiting participants for the two remaining missions of 2017 (Campaign 4). These missions are full-scale simulated mission to an asteroid lasting 45 days (68 days including training and debriefing). Information and requirements are posted below. For more details, or to apply, please:

email: jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or call: (281) 212-1492

 Mission Overview

Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA)
  • Location: Johnson Space Center
  • Environment: Closed Habitat
  • Hazards Tested: Isolation, light and dark cycles, distance from Earth
  • Description: HERA is a unique three-story habitat designed to serve as an analog for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios.
  • Research: Studies suitable for this analog include behavioral health and performance assessments, communication and autonomy studies, human factors evaluations, and medical capabilities assessments.

Mission Requirements

  • Age: 30-55
  • No medications or dietary restrictions
  • BMI of 29 or less
  • 74 inches in height, or less
  • No History of sleepwalking
  • A Masters Degree in a technical field such as science, engineering or mathematics, or the equivalent experience.

Volunteer for a Space Simulation!

 Types of Analogs

The high-fidelity space simulation HERA is recruiting participants for the two remaining missions of 2017 (Campaign 4). These missions are full-scale simulated mission to an asteroid lasting 45 days (68 days including training and debriefing). Information and requirements are posted below. For more details, or to apply, please:

email: jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or call: (281) 212-1492

 Mission Overview

Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA)
  • Location: Johnson Space Center
  • Environment: Closed Habitat
  • Hazards Tested: Isolation, light and dark cycles, distance from Earth
  • Description: HERA is a unique three-story habitat designed to serve as an analog for isolation, confinement, and remote conditions in exploration scenarios.
  • Research: Studies suitable for this analog include behavioral health and performance assessments, communication and autonomy studies, human factors evaluations, and medical capabilities assessments.

Mission Requirements

  • Age: 30-55
  • No medications or dietary restrictions
  • BMI of 29 or less
  • 74 inches in height, or less
  • No History of sleepwalking
  • A Masters Degree in a technical field such as science, engineering or mathematics, or the equivalent experience.

HERA Campaign 4 Lifts off with 13th Crew

Date: 05-05-17
Location: Bldg 220, HERA
Subject: HERA 13 Crew Photo
Photographer: James Blair

The fourth HERA (Human Exploration Research Analog) Campaign (C4) began on May 6 at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. C4, one of several research analogs used by NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) to prepare astronauts for deep space missions, will consist of four 45-day missions that simulate a real space exploration without actually leaving Earth. An analog is a situation on Earth that mimics physical and mental effects on the body experienced in space. The crewmembers are Timothy Evans, Andrew Mark Settles, James Titus, and John Kennard. This is an all-male crew – by chance, not by design.

HRP will require the crew to conduct the same experiments on all four C4 missions which will enable researchers to identify patterns and variances in the research data. Experiments will include testing hardware prototypes, creating equipment with a 3-D printer, testing out a new concept for space food, flying a simulated exploration vehicle and a virtual extravehicular activity (EVA) on an asteroid.

While the HERA crew conducts their tasks inside the analog, the HERA analog team and researchers will monitor them from the outside. They will collect crew data on the physiological and psychological effects of extended isolation and confinement, team dynamics and conflict resolution.

HRP’s Flight Analogs Project Manager, Lisa Spence said, “NASA’s astronaut selection process has had great success. We try to identify people for HERA missions who fit a similar profile as astronauts. We also make our analog campaigns emulate real space missions as much as possible, which includes 16-hour crew work days, six days a week, with a real-life timeline of scheduled activities from the HERA Mission Control Center.”

Campaign 4, Mission 1 (C4M1) marks the start of HERA’s 45-day missions. Campaign 1, in 2014, were seven-day missions; Campaign 2, in 2015, were 14-day missions; Campaign 3, in 2016, were 30-day missions. Longer mission length allows for more research studies and more data points relevant to longer duration spaceflight missions.

The other three Campaign 4 missions are scheduled as follows: Mission 2 is Aug. 5 – Sept. 18, Mission 3 is Oct. 21 – Dec. 4, and Mission 4 is Feb. 3 – Mar. 19, 2018.

The Test Subject Screening group is accepting curriculum vitaes (CV) for healthy, non-smoking volunteers, ages 30 to 55 for future missions. Volunteers will be compensated and must pass a physical and psychological assessment to qualify. Volunteers wishing to become test subjects should e-mail their CV to jsc-hera@mail.nasa.gov or call 281-212-1492.

For more information on NASA’s Human Research Program, visit: www.nasa.gov/hrp.

Monica Edwards
Laurie Abadie
NASA Human Research Engagement & Communications

Analog to Focus on Optic Health in Astronauts

Optic health in astronauts is the focus of NASA’s upcoming campaign at :envihab at the DLR (Germany’s space agency) in Cologne, Germany. Twelve volunteers will spend 30 days in bed with a head-down tilt of negative six-degrees and will live in a five percent carbon dioxide atmosphere. This will mimic microgravity giving researchers a way to study the effects of pressure on astronauts’ eyes and optic nerve in space.

NASA has been concerned with astronaut’s vision since many (but not all) have returned from six-month stays in the International Space Station complaining of vision impairment that seems to be permanent.

For photographs and more information about :envihab, go to:

www.nasa.gov/analogs/envihab

8 Amazing Places You Can Visit ‘Mars’ on Earth

PHOTOGRAPH BY V.CROBU, ESA
Astronauts from five space agencies explore caves in Sardinia as part of a training course designed to teach them how to work effectively in multicultural teams when safety is critical.

A handful of faux space missions exist around the world, and scientists are using them to study various aspects of how humans respond to the challenges of traveling and living in deep space environments. In the space investigation world, these places are called “analogs.” An Analog is a situation on Earth that produces effects on the body similar to those experienced in space, both physical and mental/emotional. These studies help prepare us for long duration missions.

This National Geographic article highlights eight such places around the world with rich descriptions of the analog environment and what the research seeks to accomplish to get us one step closer to Mars.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/12/exploring-mars-utah-mock-mission-simulation-space-science/