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Skin-Tight Bodysuits Could Protect Astronauts From Bone Loss

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the wink-wink-you-bet-they-will dept.

Medicine 158

jamie passes along a report about research from MIT's Man-Vehicle Laboratory into using "superhero-style" skinsuits to combat the effects of extended stays in microgravity on bone density in astronauts. (Abstract.) Quoting: "Astronauts lose 1 to 2 percent of their bone mass for each month they spend in space. As far back as the Gemini missions, conditioning exercise regimes have been used to slow the rate of bone loss, but a 2001-2004 NASA-sponsored study showed that crew members aboard the International Space Station were still losing up to 2.7 percent of their interior bone material and 1.7 percent of outer hipbone material for each month they spent in space. ... With stirrups that loop around the feet, the elastic gravity skinsuit is purposely cut too short for the astronaut so that it stretches when put on — pulling the wearer's shoulders towards the feet. In normal gravity conditions on Earth, a human's legs bear more weight than the torso. Because the suit's legs stretch more than the torso section, the wearer's legs are subjected to a greater force — replicating gravity effects on Earth." See? Seven of Nine's outfit was inspired by science after all.

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Is it just me... (5, Funny)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139540)

Or does this sound like a bit of a stretch?

Re:Is it just me... (4, Insightful)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139792)

I know that it would prevent losing my own bone, if they get these skintight outfits on... suitable female astronauts...

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140018)

Is that an astronaut suit, or are you just happy to see me?

Suitable = slightly on the skinny side? :) (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140512)

There is one somewhat related EVA suit, too: http://mvl.mit.edu/EVA/biosuit/index.html [mit.edu]

The bottom line seems to be: since some...tissues can't really maintain shape when put under mechanical pressure (what those tight suits are about), this means big breasts seem to be destined to die out, confined to this planet.

Mwuahahaha.

Re:Suitable = slightly on the skinny side? :) (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140558)

the suits are about pressure on hips and shoulders, has nothing to do with said pressure on the chest.

boobs live on.

Re:Suitable = slightly on the skinny side? :) (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141054)

The suits from this story, maybe (hey, who knows to where the idea will lead in the end?) but not biosuit I linked to - it needs uniform mechanical pressure and non-extending lines on the skin. Anything too...wobbly and it's a no go, apparently.

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140028)

Or does this sound like a bit of a stretch?

Yeah. I have a bone to pick with NASA in regards to this topic.

Re:Is it just me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140152)

It will likely have the same problems the elastic exercise systems did -- local wear spots leading to blistering.

that's not all (3, Funny)

RapmasterT (787426) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139566)

If we get hot female astronauts, skin tight bodysuits could protect from boner loss too.

thank you, thanks...I'll be here all week.

Re:that's not all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139620)

I'm sure they'd be wearing these under something else like coveralls, unfortunately.

Re:that's not all (0, Troll)

nsaspook (20301) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139698)

If we get hot female astronauts, skin tight bodysuits could protect from boner loss too.

thank you, thanks...I'll be here all week.

Protection from boner loss has always been a top priority.

http://ufoseries.com/movieClips/ellis.wmv

Re:that's not all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34141378)

I'm confused. Why would a female astronaut have a boner? And more importantly, why would anyone want shemale astronauts, when we can have female ones?

Signed,
ACASA (Anonymous Cowards Against Shemale Astronauts)

Barbarella had it right (5, Funny)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139568)

Zero gravity leather bondage is good for you!

Re:Barbarella had it right (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140442)

story: skin tight astronaut suits

guys born 1940-1960: snarky barbarella jokes

guys born 1960-1980: snarky seven of nine jokes

guys born 1980-2000: what's an astronaut? what's NASA? we landed on the moon? really?

Re:Barbarella had it right (2, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140552)

Shouldn't there be at least a decade of Princess Leia in there?

Re:Barbarella had it right (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140670)

Shouldn't there be at least a decade of Princess Leia in there?

Only when they release a study showing that bikinis in zero gravity improves red blood cell counts.

Re:Barbarella had it right (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140686)

and there is leela in futurama

and we also forgot erin gray's skin tight outfit in buck rogers

"biddi-biddi-biddi. you morons"

Re:Barbarella had it right (2, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140894)

Bodysuit dude, not bikini suit, leather vest, party dress or military fatigues.

So no Leya, no Lt Col Carter, no Teyla and no Cylons either.

Though a bit of Vala Mal Doran may fit the bill.

Re:Barbarella had it right (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141124)

If they were wearing silly masks, and moved around like the old silent movie stars, you'd have a set of Power Rangers.

Skin-Tight Bodysuits (2, Funny)

Andrewkov (140579) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139588)

Star Trek has known this for years.

Re:Skin-Tight Bodysuits (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139612)

I thought it was just good for ratings. Now you're telling me it was all scientifically reasoned???!?

Re:Skin-Tight Bodysuits (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139814)

damn! Next you'll be telling us that all scientific, pilot, research, weapons, and EVA roles would be perfectly suited to 16 year old sons of medical staff.

Re:Skin-Tight Bodysuits (-1, Redundant)

formfeed (703859) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139702)

Star Trek has known this for years.

I always wondered why 7of9 had to run around in this tight leotards.
Finally, a scientific explanation!

Re:Skin-Tight Bodysuits (1)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141228)

I always wondered why 7of9 had to run around in this tight leotards. Finally, a scientific explanation!

The Borg assimilated spandex early on.

Resistance is futile. You will be asshumiliated. Wait, did I pronounce that correctly...?

Re:Skin-Tight Bodysuits (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140262)

Looks like future astronauts may learn the Picard Maneuver long before the 24th century.

Seven of Nine's outfit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139600)

Was clearly inspired by Jeri Ryan's glorious ample breasts.

But can they be made out of (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139630)

...valour? [bloggingstartrek.net]

no - Re:But can they be made out of (1)

Fubari (196373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140418)

s/valour/velour/
velour [wikipedia.org] excerpt: According to costumer designer William Blackburn, the uniforms on Star Trek: The Original Series were made of velour. They were always riding up on the actors, and what came to be known as "Command Gold" was originally "Command Green", but the green velour became varying shades of yellow and light greens under the studio lights.

Just for fun, I was surprised to see velour has been around for a while:
history [textilesindepth.com] Velour was invented in 1844 in Lyons (France). The word "Velour" is derived from French which is a term for velvet.

Wearing it to sleep (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139668)

The article mentions wearing it in your sleep, but is that really necessary? I know I personally don't sleep standing up, so there's probably very little force-of-gravity effects on my legs.

It could be an issue if it's overly difficult to put on however, as that isn't mentioned.

Re:Wearing it to sleep (4, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139716)

Or it could be that it isn't as effective as gravity, so to give it an extra bump, the extra 8 hours are needed.

Re:Wearing it to sleep (3, Interesting)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139866)

If that's the reason it brings up other concerns. In particular the 'taller in the morning that at night syndrome'.

Eg, it's natural for the human body to contract during the day and expand at night. Who knows what the long term effects of not doing this for an extended period of time are. I could see this as being either good or bad

Re:Wearing it to sleep (2, Insightful)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140612)

Of course, those other concerns are already disrupted in 0g as is...

Re:Wearing it to sleep (1)

RealErmine (621439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141402)

The article mentions wearing it in your sleep, but is that really necessary?

Wearing the suit to sleep is solely to curb the opportunity for adolescent pranks like swapping the Captain's suit to one with a higher elastic coefficient and watching his limbs collapse like a dead bug.

rotate the station. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34139680)

stupidity and bad engineering to create a long duration space station with no simply ring design for rotation and simulated gravity.

Re:rotate the station. (1)

jpolonsk (739332) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139836)

If it were rotating then we would lose a lot of the benefits of the experiments being done in space namely weightlessness. Also (from wikipedia) we don't know the long term effects of living in a centrifuge. Finally at a practical level the ISS isn't designed to be rotated, likely doesn't have the fuel to start the rotation and slow the rotation for the dockings and would introduce a whole new set of engineering problems.

Re:rotate the station. (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139944)

fair enough if it wasn't designed for rotation, but there's no reason a ring couldn't be tacked on at a later date - probably when there's enough incentive to pay for the construction of one (it'd be quite expensive, not just for the rotating coupling with the rest of the station, but for the cost of 2 struts to connect the pods at the end of the arms to the hub, and the living quarter pods themselves. (I assume counter-rotating pods at the end of 2 arms would be a lot cheaper than a full ring)

Also you don't need to worry about docking - you dock at the centre that doesn't rotate.

Re:rotate the station. (1)

KingFrog (1888802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139970)

Well, you could have sections rotate and others remain relatively fixed. Kinda like a great, space-faring ferris wheel or carousel, there could be a center hub that is (effectively) weightless, and a larger outer living region that has artificial gravity...uh, I mean centrifugal/centripetal forces acting upon it.

Re:rotate the station. (1)

Saishuuheiki (1657565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139908)

A for a traveling spaceship this could be useful. However, for the space station, most of the stuff we do is experiments in zero-gravity which couldn't be done if we're spinning it to simulate gravity.

Re:rotate the station. (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140182)

stupidity and bad engineering to create a long duration space station with no simply ring design for rotation and simulated gravity.

It's a not an easy thing to do. Particularly when viewed in terms of a man-rated piece of space habitat.

Adding a rotating ring/arm/etc presents multiple serious issues, among which are safety (many tons moving experiencing a sudden mechanical lock/freeze-up can tear things apart), engineering challenges both known and yet to be discovered that haven't been developed for as yet, and weight/lift abilities/costs as the structural beams and such strong enough to withstand the stresses they will encounter will have a good bit of mass, depending on the loads.

Strat

Re:rotate the station. (2, Insightful)

meloneg (101248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140422)

Problem is, we're not really at that scale yet. Takes a pretty big station to achieve a reasonable gravity with spin.

Re:rotate the station. (5, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140506)

Alright, the issue here is that if you don't make the ring fucking HUGE then you actually end up with the Coriolis effect causing extreme nausea and all the astronauts vomiting. So your "solution" would:
A) Cost a fuckload of money.
B) Be completely impractical to get into space and install
C) Not work anyway.

I find it funny that every Tom, Dick, and Harry without a high school education thinks that they're a brilliant engineer whenever they read about some problem that hundreds of experienced engineers couldn't solve. Seriously, take ten seconds and go google your idea BEFORE touting it as the magical solution that all of these foolish NASA engineers didn't think of.

Re:rotate the station. (2, Insightful)

bmo (77928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140518)

Adding a rotating portion to the station would be introducing a gyroscope. Doing so would be problematic.

Take a bicycle wheel, spin it on its axis and then try to tilt it.

How much fuel are you willing to spend to keep the station oriented the right way?

How much mechanicals are you willing to spend money on to steer the solar panels if you aren't going to be using thrusters to orient the whole station?

How big is your budget? Funding isn't unlimited. You need to make choices. If you go with a rotating section, what are you going to eliminate elsewhere to compensate for the cost?

The only lack of thinking in this case is on your part.

--
BMO

Re:rotate the station. (3, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141264)

We can't afford to send much material up there, space stations have to be fairly small with sections having diameters of maybe 3-4 meters, you cannot make a centrifuge out of that.

Sounds damned uncomfortable. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139738)

n/t

Re:Sounds damned uncomfortable. (4, Insightful)

Machupo (59568) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139786)

sounds damned uncomfortable

Probably less uncomfortable than having paperweight bones with serious fracture risks

Re:Sounds damned uncomfortable. (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139932)

It doesn't sound like they're going to be like exercise bands or anything, just slightly undersized unitard made out of stretchy material. You probably won't notice it at all 5 minutes after you put it on.

Re:Sounds damned uncomfortable. (2, Funny)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141446)

You probably won't notice it at all 5 minutes after you put it on.

Unless they cut it wrong & it gives you a wedgie. I can see the observation tapes now --- 6 months of an astronaut picking their body-stocking out of their ass.

That would be impressive. (1)

Majestix (41486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139850)

If we get astronauts as sexy as 7/9 i'll be a happy camper.

Will we then get a Space Suit issue of Sport illustrated?

Wilma Deering (2, Funny)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139982)

My first thought is that this completely explains and legitimizes Col. Wilma Deering's wardrobe...

then I realized this also went for Cmdr. Rogers' and I threw up in my mouth a little.

Evangelion Plugsuit (5, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 3 years ago | (#34139986)

Except instead of Rei or Asuka you get Buzz Aldrin... the future is a terrifying place children...

Re:Evangelion Plugsuit (1)

The Wild Norseman (1404891) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141082)

Except instead of Rei or Asuka you get Buzz Aldrin... the future is a terrifying place children...

And in space, no one can hear you scream...

Re:Evangelion Plugsuit (2, Funny)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141484)

Except instead of Rei or Asuka you get Buzz Aldrin... the future is a terrifying place children...

And in space, no one can hear you scream...

That does make it easier to appear polite, though. Just be sure not to pantomime your screaming, then switch the mike back on. "Hello sir, nice to meet you."

Apollo 13, this is Houston, be advised you're on VOX, we heard everything you just said... $#!%.

7 of 9 (1)

swb (14022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140010)

See? Seven of Nine's outfit was inspired by science after all.

Yes, but it was inspired by reproductive science.

exercise suit? (1)

an_orphan (1918548) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140098)

This has implications for exercise, no? Would you get stronger if you wear this all day, growing more bone and muscles than necessary?

Sounds like they got it backwards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140104)

"Because the suit's legs stretch more than the torso section, [...]"

The more stretch, the less force exerted. The legs should stretch LESS if you want more tension there.

Re:Sounds like they got it backwards (1)

Grantbridge (1377621) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140174)

No, F=kx (well for a spring) if you have a larger extension, you have a larger force. I assume they mean that the legs need to stretch more than the torso to fit in the human occupant, thereby giving a greater tension. The suit isn't deformed by a fixed force, but by a fixed extension to fit the person.

Hotness is questionable... (2, Informative)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140116)

The very important issue here is that while female astronauts are fit & clever, they're rarely hot. Most of them are in their late 30s / early 40s as they've spent 20+ years getting incredible credentials. The ones who have come from the military are somewhat butch, the civilians tend to be somewhat geeky. To wit -

http://www.google.ca/images?hl=en&source=imghp&biw=1424&bih=719&q=female+astronauts [google.ca]

Re:Hotness is questionable... (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140236)

So... you're telling me that a successful, smart, athletic, geeky female isn't attractive?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Re:Hotness is questionable... (2, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140682)

He's just still in the phase where you drool over 18yo blonde supermodels. Not that they're not pretty to look at, but looking that good is a full time job and you'd probably go crazy with all the health/fitness/makeup/styling/wardrobe/diet/anorexia/whatever stuff they do if you actually lived with one. Not that I'd turn any of them down...

Re:Hotness is questionable... (2, Funny)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141168)

Only if she's willing to wear a diaper during a five hundred mile drive at the end of which she intends to club someone over the head with a blunt object.

Re:Hotness is questionable... (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141300)

Seemingly cute, too... [wikimedia.org]

(I am not the only one thinking "ze german villain and his accomplice" at the above, right? Anyway, certainly nothing better than to be such villain and have such accomplice)

Re:Hotness is questionable... (1)

genfail (777943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140848)

I think your smoking crack. There is nothing hotter then a woman in a G-Suit. I would pick any of these women over a runway model any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Lost in Space? Gemini? (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140124)

Its funny that this type of thing has been in Sci-Fi movies and television shows for decades, and I am thinking that even the original Gemini suits were somewhat form-fitting, and yet we are just now starting to look at the possibility of using these for real

Multi-prong approach (5, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140130)

Suits + exercise should both be used. But if you look at the physiology of bone, it's easy to see why both won't be enough. Bone is continually being destroyed and rebuilt by your body. The proportion of destruction to construction is controlled by stress (ignoring hormones and blood chemistry for the moment).

Gravity puts stress on your bones even when you lay down. Even in water. Any bit of movement magnifies it. Exercise in space is meant to substitute for this continual stress, but can't provide for continual, low level stress. These suits provide continual, low level stress to the skeleton. But it's still not the same.

Low level plus high level stress work great together. This is why some schools encourage kids to jump up and down, hard, to strengthen bones by including some high stress each day. But exercise and suits in space won't provide the same level to the entire skeleton that even a few hops on Earth plus a day of video games will.

There is one more technology used on Earth to selectively strengthen bones. Maybe it can provide the final missing stress. It turns out sound waves stress bone too. Audible sound would be too loud. But ultrasound is commonly used to accelerate bone healing and strengthening. It's not inconceivable that the skin tight suit could incorporate PVDF sheets that could transmit ultrasound into an astronaut's bones, applying it to understressed areas. It could even work as a cap to reduce bone loss in the skull.

Or just build a big 'ol hamster wheel.

Color Choices (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140210)

So in the picture attached to the article, one of the guys is wearing a nearly transparent white suit. I am not sure which researcher though that making one of the prototypes be transparent was a good idea (probably one fantasizing about female astronauts), but I have ten bucks that says the guy modeling that particular outfit just wanted to get a near-nude picture of himself on the internet for shits and giggles.

Pressure, not force. (1)

danhaas (891773) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140532)

If the force on their feet is greater than on their shoulders, the astronauts would accelerate "up". That's what happens on Earth, the ground is constantly accelerating us up because the space itself is being distorted by mass. But that's not the case with this suit. The author probably means that the pressure on their feet is higher than on their shoulders, ie., the "downward" force is applied over a bigger area.

Please - this is SERIOUS (1)

abbynormal brain (1637419) | more than 3 years ago | (#34140824)

I mean, my GOD! Is this the best "scientists" can come up with? Is there no LONG TERM thinking anymore?
The effect of prolongued space travel (e.g., Mars and back) and the use of this new space suite will be that astronaughts WILL keep more of their bone mass HOWEVER, the Karenni people have taught us that clothing that pulls your shoulders down has a drastic side effect - long necks ...

Oh wait ... that's why the aliens in Close Encounter look that way. Never mind - press on.

2001 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34140924)

This all seems a waste of effort to me. While it is not "gravity," why can't we just build a ship like 2001: A Space Odyssey? Why wouldn't centrifugal force work?

Why not rotate the station to simulate gravity? (2, Interesting)

markdj (691222) | more than 3 years ago | (#34141218)

So many science fiction stories have shown that one can simulate gravity with centrifugal force by rotating a craft/station. Why don't we do this with the international space station?
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