NASA invests in research for keeping astronauts healthy in deep space

8 May 2014

An artist's rendering of a base on the moon. Image via NASA

In looking to explore further into space, US space agency NASA has agreed to fund 26 research projects that will look at ensuring the health and well-being of astronauts travelling into deep space.

According to NASA, these selected proposals originate from 16 institutions in eight US states and will receive about US$17m between one and three years.

The 26 chosen projects have been selected from 123 proposals received in response to NASA’s research announcement, in which it sought life-support technology. Science and technology experts from academia and government reviewed the proposals.

As things stand with our level of technology and propulsion, any trip to the outer planets beyond the moon will require some form of self-induced hibernation, as a single trip could take years to reach a destination.

Aside from the technological challenges, astronauts will face psychological ones that arise from living in a confined space for long periods of time.

This latest series of research will investigate the impact of the space environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including visual impairment, behavioural health, bone loss, cardiovascular alterations, human factors and performance, neurobehavioural and psychosocial factors, sensorimotor adaptation, and the development and application of smart medical systems and technology.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic