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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the need-gravity-to-balance-eye-fusion dept.

NASA 109

SternisheFan sends this report from Universe Today: How does microgravity affect your health? One of the chief concerns of NASA astronauts these days is changes to eyesight. Some people come back from long-duration stays in space with what appears to be permanent changes, such as requiring glasses when previously they did not. And the numbers are interesting. A few months after NASA [said] 20% of astronauts may face this problem, a new study points out that 21 U.S. astronauts that have flown on the International Space Station for long flights (which tend to be five to six months) face visual problems. These include "hyperopic shift, scotoma and choroidal folds to cotton wool spots, optic nerve sheath distension, globe flattening and edema of the optic nerve," states the University of Houston, which is collaborating with NASA on a long-term study of astronauts while they're in orbit.

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Get your Eyes on THIS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768783)

There's talk that the city of Munich, Germany-a bastion of open-souce idealism-will give up hope and move from its LiMux-brand of Linux to Microsoft Windows. Everyone is trying to understand this with a lot of online complaining.

I like Linux and would love to just go all-in with it as the mavens tell me I can do. But I cannot. I use these computers to make a living by writing and podcasting. I also produce photographic art as a hobby. I can't accomplish any of this with Linux.

Yes, I can kind of "get by" but that's about it. There are a lot of products that I need that will run on WINE, a chunk of code that allows Windows software to run on Linux. It's not perfect. It takes tweaking, there are all sorts of issues, and, more importantly, what's the point? If I have to run Windows applications, I want Windows, don't I?

It's like vegetarians who crave meat and eat meat-"flavored" tofu burgers instead. Again, what's the point?

I want native applications on Linux. While there are thousands of functional applications that run great they do not cut it in the end.

For example, I tried with the help of Linux experts to get a podcasting rig to run a simple digital-to-analog converter and pre-amp over Skype. Forget it. Nothing worked right. Linux did not like the gear and Skype on Linux stinks.

I also noticed a curious phenomenon within the Linux expert community of making suggestions that don't work. When called out for the fail, the expert would always say, "Well, I never tried it, I just heard that it worked." This commonality is deadly and seems universal.

Then we have Photoshop, Illustrator, and the entire Adobe universe. None of it runs on Linux natively and people "have heard" that it runs okay on WINE. This is no good. Then GIMP enters the conversation. Yes, as a Photoshop clone it's actually pretty good. But the name says it all: hobbled.

Now we move on to the Office Suite from Microsoft. There are many good competitors in this space, many free. They all seem perfect for the small office or even a city government, like in Munich. The word processors, in particular, are very much like the reliable versions of MS-Word-you know, before the appearance of the "ribbon" interface.

People in the Windows world can find these suites on Windows, too, namely Libre Office and Apache OpenOffice. Both are fully functional office suites.

Microsoft does not like these things and performed format changes, such as adding the .docx format. That was a setback for the clones because .docx became the default "save as" format for Word and too many users could not figure out how to save any other way; docx became a fly in the ointment for clone suite users. I always told people it was rude to use .docx, because it is. Not every computer user in the world can read this format.

Ironically, Microsoft didn't need to change anything. Word is just better. Excel is better. PowerPoint is better. It's that simple.

When I tried to get my own family to use the alternative Office Suites, they rejected every option. My wife, for example, likes the Windows way of tracking and saving all changes in a document, and the ability to reclaim old text. Why anyone wants to keep what I consider junk is beyond me.

Nobody was going for it. And I admit that while I do not care about tracking changes, I do like the grammar checker on Word. It needs improvement, but it does a good superficial sweep and catches little errors. This is particularly handy for professional writers, many of whom are sloppy and expect the waning army of editors to fix things. I also think the Microsoft spell checker is better than the alternatives.

Unter gleeben glauben globen. If I want a word processor to create e-books, for example, or to organize large texts I use Scrivener. Does Scrivener run on Linux? Maybe someday. I still do the original writing in Word, then run it to Scrivener for organizing and compiling. Linux is not part of the scheme.

Now there may be something that shows up on Linux that everyone will have to have and we'll all have to buy a Linux box or dual boot because of it. Visi-Calc sold a lot of Apple II computers in its day-1979-because it alone ran Visi-Calc. That was then, this is now.

Time has run out for there to be a must-have killer software package on Linux. Anyone writing such an application writes it for Mac or Windows, because that's where the customers are. All the super applications for Linux are on the server side and that ends the discussion. Yes, this could change someday. But that someday is not on the horizon.

Right now Linux on the desktop remains a cheap curiosity, that is kind of fun to play with when you are bored, or nerdly.

space affect? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768829)

like they exhibit a spacey behavior or demeanor?

Better yet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769615)

I knew that I could write off this article (or just Slashdead altogether) when I read the first sentence.

How does microgravity affect your health?

It isn't MY health that is being affected, and more importantly, there are MANY factors besides the relative lack of gravity which may have an impact upon one's health.

captcha: idiots

Re:Better yet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769793)

It's a legitimate complaint, but if it had been phrased as "How does microgravity affect one's health?" it would have been downvoted as being too snobby (or the editors would have "fixed" it).

Re:Better yet! (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47770479)

I suppose it all depends on how you read TFA. If you insert a pause, the headline reads correctly, and I not to edit any of the article. I did a straight copy/paste (lazy me!), and I could have adjusted the wonky reading headline, but thought, "Nah, let the /.'ers have some fun with this one." The editors did a good job of editing the submission, creating the correct hyperlinks that I did not do, *again lazy me).

Re:Better yet! (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47770503)

"..., and I 'did' not 'try' to edit..." (sigh...)

What can be done about this? (1)

Joe Gillian (3683399) | about 2 months ago | (#47768845)

I know there are all kinds of chronic health problems that can emerge from extended stays in space - heart problems being the big one, since the heart doesn't like going from microgravity to Earth gravity abruptly. Yet, it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot to be done about it unless we find a way to generate gravity in space. Has any research been done on mitigating the effects of space?

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768865)

Gravity plating. Nasa should just pick up extra from Jupiter Station.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 months ago | (#47768877)

Artificial selection, maybe? Breed the astronauts who survive best in space?

Or would that be just too eugenicsy?

Re:What can be done about this? (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 months ago | (#47769075)

Eugenicsy? Maybe. Too slow? Hell yes.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 2 months ago | (#47769129)

I'm sorry, but the very laws of physics suggest that if we're leaving this solar system, it's going to take generations anyways.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769301)

Pfff... Like you always stick to the posted speed limit...

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 2 months ago | (#47769821)

Speed limits are in space are a lot like the top speed on the speedo in my old Mini: it clearly says ninety and you can just about reach it... on an incline... with a favourable tail wind... and no passengers... or seats... but you can't go any faster without some serious re-jigging of the laws o' physics.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769415)

Why would you leave the only place we have that's perfect for us?

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

Xenx (2211586) | about 2 months ago | (#47769469)

Perfect doesn't mean best choice available. There are plenty of unaccomodating issues with the planet.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47770239)

Perfect doesn't mean best choice available. There are plenty of unaccomodating issues with the planet.

I see you know my in-laws.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 months ago | (#47769473)

You have a strange definition of perfect.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769839)

Wooow. Really? Compared to a zero-gee radiation-blasted vacuum?

Are you serious? Really?

You're completely fucked up. The Antarctica in winter night is more hospitable than Mars.

"strange" that we have the perfect gravity, air mixture, air pressure, radiation shielding, food and 100% self-regulating biosphere that's been running for billions of years?

What do you have???

Holy motherfucking crap you Space Nutters are DEMENTED.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 months ago | (#47772965)

There's no "compared to".

Perfect isn't a comparison - something is not "more perfect" than something else. Something is either perfect or it is not.

Remove malaria from the Earth and it would be a better place for humans to live - hence it is not "prefect for us".

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | about 2 months ago | (#47771959)

Because sooner or later something is going to happen to this little rock that will make it far less perfect, ranging from another rock hitting it to nearby super nova, to more mundane things like and ultra plague that wipes out life as we know it.

Re: What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47772179)

Don't feed the space nut-chasing demented squirrel.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47772893)

You are a child.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

cjjjer (530715) | about 2 months ago | (#47769381)

Breed the astronauts *in* space....

Re:What can be done about this? (4, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 2 months ago | (#47769039)

aside from artificial gravity, nothing. No amount of exercise bike pedaling will save your optic nerves from being in zero G too long.

There isn't really any good reason to put people in orbit for 6 months+. Rotate them out every couple of months. Yes we needed data on long-term microgravity effects on the human body. We have them now, zero G does bad things to your body. So don't do it for extended periods.

Fly in the ointment is the expected trip to Mars, which will take 9 months to a year. Fortunately people like Zubrin have developed advanced technologies to deal with this. It's called a rope. Attach the Mars spacecraft to a ballast via a rope (they call it tether) and spin it until you get 1/3rd G. Problem solved.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769103)

I'm fairly sure the expense of manned launches qualifies as a good reason to put people in orbit for 6+ months.

Re:What can be done about this? (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 months ago | (#47769143)

Wouldn't that be "problem 33% solved?"

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

cerberusti (239266) | about 2 months ago | (#47771811)

The phrase "close enough for government work" comes to mind.

Re:What can be done about this? (2, Insightful)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47769389)

It is easy to create artificial gravity by spinning a cylinder and walking on the inner surface, using the centrifugal force. Like your washing machine does it. However these health problems are not related to gravity. Health problems relating purely to gravity are all muscoskeletal - atrophy of muscles from nonuse, and deterioration of bones from not being needed much, lack of stress on them.
The eye problems and heart problems come about from something else - intense cosmic rays. The space station is too friggin small to provide proper shielding. A rotating cylinder space station of 300 yard radius and half a mile length would be much better. Especially if you put many floors on it, as each floor serves as a radiation shield, and you could sleep suspended in a sleeping bag in the center weightlessness zone, the most shielded part. Of course it comes down to wall thickness, and for starters, you need at least two steel cylinders with small gap/lubricant sliding on top of each other, so in case of an iron-nickel meteorite projectile piercing through both going at 30 miles per second, and through all floors then exiting the other side, the sliding motion covers up the hole pretty fast, and does not leak the whole space station to vacuum quickly, and lets you evacuate to a different air locked segment while spacewalk outside repairs like thermite welding are under way, and the segment can be fully repressurized. The thicker the wall the better protection from cosmic rays, however, you don't want to go too thick, as the atmosphere down here on earth only protects so much, and the highest background radiation places like India from all that thorium, still have healthy populations. Without cosmic rays the rate of mutations and stillborn babies probably drops, but it also stops evolution, and new forms of beautiful or better people appearing on the scene. I wonder if there is a correlation between altitude of a city and number of stillborn babies, for a standard batch of people, such as Asians from Shanghai living in Lima, Katmandu, near the Dead Sea (below sea level), etc. Comparing indigenous people does not work as they may already be adapted to high background radiation, and in fact these high altitude Tibetan and Andes people might be better suited to be astronauts, because they've been under less insulation protections from the atmosphere above them than the rest of us, in a sense they have already been living closer to outer space, outer space is more their home than ours. However people living near simply high background radiation, such as thorium in India, at low altitude, fall under the same category.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47769443)

By the way the caveman was living under most insulation from cosmic rays, if he lived in a low background radiation cave. But a lot of caves accumulate Radon gas in low lying areas, so it all depends on the surrounding rock. If it's all stalactites and stalagmites and ancient limestone deposits, like a lot of caves are, then background radiation should be very low, however if it's volcanic origin, then it should be high, as magma, volcanic eruptions, carry quite a bit of nuclear material compared to sedimentary rocks.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

sillybilly (668960) | about 2 months ago | (#47769463)

Oh yeah, lack of gravity creates muscle atrophy and bone loss, just like lack of exercise, but cosmic rays also do both. So it's hard to decompose how much of it is due to radiation and how much due to lack of use, as the two are probably additive. However when it comes to optic-nerve sheath degradation, that has nothing to do with gravity, and it's all radiation.

travel cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47771203)

A cost of $30 million per person to LEO via Soyuz, or ~$65 million if Russia over charges, is a pretty strong reason to maximize stay length in LEO.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

cyn1c77 (928549) | about 2 months ago | (#47771933)

aside from artificial gravity, nothing. No amount of exercise bike pedaling will save your optic nerves from being in zero G too long.

There isn't really any good reason to put people in orbit for 6 months+. Rotate them out every couple of months. Yes we needed data on long-term microgravity effects on the human body. We have them now, zero G does bad things to your body. So don't do it for extended periods.

Fly in the ointment is the expected trip to Mars, which will take 9 months to a year. Fortunately people like Zubrin have developed advanced technologies to deal with this. It's called a rope. Attach the Mars spacecraft to a ballast via a rope (they call it tether) and spin it until you get 1/3rd G. Problem solved.

How do you know that 1/3G will solve the problem without testing it on human subjects?

Re:What can be done about this? (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47769113)

Yet, it doesn't seem like there's a whole lot to be done about it unless we find a way to generate gravity in space.

Just spin the space station. The centripetal force can substitute for gravity. This doesn't work for small space craft, because the different forces on the head and feet will cause nausea. It is also a problem for people doing outside repairs, because any untethered tools or components will fly away. But for a large space station, such as an O'Neill Cylinder [wikipedia.org] , or multi-generational starship, spinning should work fine.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

schweini (607711) | about 2 months ago | (#47769405)

Wouldn't it be easier to just have a capsule and a counterweight on a long rope of sorts, and spin/orbit it around an axle that is on the spaceship?
Why hasn't this been done yet? It would seem to me to be almost energy-neutral, since you would only have to compensate for the friction on the axle, once you get the capsules spining?

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 months ago | (#47769491)

Wouldn't it be easier to just have a capsule and a counterweight on a long rope of sorts, and spin/orbit it around an axle that is on the spaceship? Why hasn't this been done yet?

It hasn't been done for a number of reasons:
1. Micro-gravity isn't that big of a deal. If a handful of astronauts need glasses, that isn't a major problem.
2. Lots of experiments on the ISS require micro-gravity.
3. It makes docking more difficult.
4. Spacewalks to do repairs and maintenance are more difficult.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

countach (534280) | about 2 months ago | (#47770703)

Yes, the whole point of sending folks into the space station is to do experiments in microgravity. Otherwise, might as well stay home and watch TV.

Re:What can be done about this? (2)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 2 months ago | (#47771917)

This is why the obvious solution is to compartmentalize the artificial gravity habitats:

You have a single, exterior shell, which does NOT rotate. This allows spacewalks without all those nasty issues.

Inside this shell, you have several cylendrical habitats that counter-rotate. The combined rotational force is a net zero, which is why the exterior shell does not rotate.

(Simplest configuration-- One long cylendar, with two cylendars inside. One of these rotates clockwise, the other counter clockwise. The long axis of all cylendars is conserved.)

This would allow you to use the gravitational habitats as reaction control wheels. They could also be spun down for easy maintenance-- Being INSIDE the vehicle's outer shell, the whole interstitial space between the habitat and the outer hull could be pressurized. Maintenance to the moving parts would be radically less difficult, and lost tools would only happen on exterior hull maintenance. Again, exterior hull DOES NOT SPIN.

The reason we dont design space vessels this way is very blunt: It costs a WHOLE FUCKING LOT OF MONEY to orbit just a few pounds of weight. Proper design is easy--- Logistics of lofting something that works, even halfassed, is NOT.

This argument isnt about long term space missions.

This argument is really about why we arent using the moon for staging our orbiting vehicle construction.

If we used the moon this way, we could AFFORD to build CORRECT space vehicles that DO supply sufficient shielding.

We dont, because that means having a real, self-sustaining colony on the moon, which means having joe sixpack in space, and all the trappings that go with it. (Space pubs/bars, and space hookers. No society in the history of mankind has been without them. The moon would be no different.) This is VERY unattractive to high-minded politicians and researchers. NOBODY wants to be the guy who puts space whores on the moon.

However, private industry has no such qualms. They will happily put "Candy" on the moon, to do her low G poledance routine, as long as she can pay the ficket price for her flight.

We will get there eventually; but really, we should have been more aggressive about getting things set up and running on the moon.

Politically, government has to contend with things like "Making sure single mothers and orphans get subsidized health and food services"-- Again, private industry has no such requirement.

It wont be pretty, but at least it will eventually get there. Just dont expect star trek.

Instead, the grim spectre is "The company store". (I wouldnt be surprised if the early privatized space agencies actually negotiate a fee for candy's services, and actually ship her up themselves!) The companies that fund and build the colony sites up there are going to have literal material monopolies on everything from power, to water, to air, to food. And in a potentially unregulatable environment. Nasty business.

But again-- we WILL eventually get there, but the end result wont be roses and sunshine. Government is not capable of the sustained attention focus in the face of voter interests--- and private industry has no real humanitarian interests.

Private indsutry will go anywhere and do anything that people are willing to pay money for, and will tailor its actions to maximize its financial bottom line. -- That's a two edged sword of truth. (If there's a market, and profit to be made in sacrificing babies to Satan, they would cheerfully sacrifice as many babies as possible to get that money given half the chance. Private industry is NOT a moral actor.)

There is a vast and untapped market in space. The need for orbiting telecom, and improved service and uptime of same, is only getting greater by the minute. The first group to succeed in getting a viable colony on the moon to provide manufacturing, orbiting, and service agreements for terrestrial satellites (based from the moon, where such service can be cheap) will have a veritable monopoly, PLANET WIDE. The financial forcast for that is astounding. Properly managed, that opens the door to monopolized interplanetary flights as well. People who dont see this do not see the big picture. Private industry however DOES. That's why bigtime venture captialists like Musk and pals are all over it like flies on shit.

So, again-- it WILL eventually happen, because that's how you win in that game, and given who is playing now.

And again, it wont be pretty.

Until that time however, we are limited in what we can launch, financially. Which is why we have spacecraft that dont simulate gravity, and are literally made from metal foil, like potato chip bags are made of--- which just so happens to be why most astronaughts develop highly conspicuous occupationally derived health problems.

Re:What can be done about this? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47773115)

It's hard to take someone who can't spell "cylinder" seriously. And what the fuck is an "astronaught"??

Also, you're a batshit Space Nutter. No one is going anywhere.

"Government is not capable of the sustained attention focus in the face of voter interests"

Holy Jesus fuck. A Libertarian Space Nutter. Reading your adolescent 1960s space schlock was hilarious though!

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 months ago | (#47770757)

Spin the current space station and you'll have a whole bunch of shiny chunks of metal flying away from each other, and no atmosphere inside.

The present design isn't made to withstand even 1/3g loading - maybe a new space station design could handle it, but not the one we've got.

Re:What can be done about this? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769115)

The only real solution is artificial gravity. The human body is not designed to operate for extended periods in a weightless environment. Remember those "spinning wheel" satellites from scifi movies, such as 2001? That concept is not new, but may be necessary if humans are to spend extended periods in space without serious consequences.

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769399)

Correction, "the human body did not evolve to operate..."

Re:What can be done about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769135)

Bionic eyes.

yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (2, Informative)

shadowrat (1069614) | about 2 months ago | (#47768917)

bone density plummets, muscles atrophy, eyes degenerate. Are we telling this to kids that go to space camp? Being an astronaut is as bad if not worse for your health as playing in the NFL. Of course, i find the former more interesting to follow from the comfort of my armchair.

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (5, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47769255)

From CBCnews, Mar 13, 2012:

Astronauts have complained for decades about vision problems such as blurriness following trips into space. A recent NASA survey of 300 astronauts found correctible near and distance vision problems in 48 per cent of astronauts who had been on extended missions and 23 per cent of those who had been on brief missions. In some cases, they lasted for years after the astronauts returned to Earth.

Fluid shifting toward head causes problems

In the new study, the astronauts had spent an average of 108 days in space. Their eye abnormalities were similar to those seen in patients on Earth with idiopathic intracranial hypertension. Patients with the condition have increased pressure around their brains for no apparent reason.

Among the astronauts in the study:

33 per cent had expansion of the space filled with cerebral spinal fluid that surrounds the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.

22 per cent had flattening of the rear of the eyeball.

15 per cent had bulging of the optic nerve.

11 per cent had changes in the pituitary gland and its connection to the brain.

An earlier NASA-sponsored study of seven astronauts, published last November in the journal Ophthalmology, found similar abnormalities and also noted that they were similar to those experienced by patients on Earth suffering from pressure in the head. But it noted that astronauts did not experience symptoms usually associated with that problem on Earth, such as chronic headache, double vision or ringing in the ears.

The earlier study suggested that the problems might be caused by fluid shifting toward the head during extended periods of time in microgravity. This could result in abnormal flow of spinal fluid around the optic nerve, changes in blood flow in the vessels at the back of the eye, or chronic low pressure within the eye, the researchers said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technol... [www.cbc.ca]

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | about 2 months ago | (#47770221)

Thanks for one of those rare, massively informative and to the point posts.

If you consider that zero-g is an environment that is utterly alien to us, which we have zero adaptation for, I'm actually surprised how relatively well homo sapiens is able to cope with it.

If you compare it to other alien environments, like too much or too little pressure, too much or too little Oxygen, too cold or too hot... usually these great differences from our natural environment are very quick to kill us.

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47770339)

Yep, it seems that zero-gravity is not going to adapt to us. We'll need spacecraft that can spin us up to a permanent near artificial earth gravity environment, or we're not going to get very far into the future of space colonization, excepting robotically.

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47772443)

If you consider that zero-g is an environment that is utterly alien to us, which we have zero adaptation for, I'm actually surprised how relatively well homo sapiens is able to cope with it.

You experience it for a very short time every time you jump. It would be impractical if that killed us instantly.

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769335)

So issues with weightlessness and you want to freak the kids out? Maybe you should realize that if humans don't become space fearing race, then it will become an extinct race.

Being an astronaut is as bad if not worse for your health as playing in the NFL. Of course, i find the former more interesting to follow from the comfort of my armchair.

I think you do both (like most of us) from your armchair :)

In either case, problems mean people need to use their brains to find solutions, not to say "OMG too dangerous!"

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47771437)

And yet, you geeks won't shut up about our salvation being not in preserving Earth, but instead emigrating to Mars... where gravity is a third of Earth's.

Face it people, our bodies are a product of this planet and for this planet only. Gravity, chemistry, and the inmense network of life which produces every molecule in our bodies and in our food and air.

Not preserving and respecting Earth is suicide as species. Abandon your stupid star trek fantasies before it's too late (hint: it already is)

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (1)

dywolf (2673597) | about 2 months ago | (#47773145)

so we just add this to the list of genetic/bionic improvements we need to implement in the Spacer subspecies.

Re:yeah, i'm not interesting in going to space (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47773281)

bone density plummets, muscles atrophy, eyes degenerate. Are we telling this to kids that go to space camp? Being an astronaut is as bad if not worse for your health as playing in the NFL. Of course, i find the former more interesting to follow from the comfort of my armchair.

Not to belittle what astronauts go through, but by his late forties my dad (a former linebacker) had horrible, grinding knees from all the cartilage and ligament damage, arthritis in his hands, and chronic back and hip pain due to some issue with his spine. In his late fifties now, he's certainly not any better. He's probably going to have back surgery soon since he pretty much can't stand straight up these days. At least no complications from his concussions have shown up yet, to my knowledge. He does need cheaters to read and do his beloved crosswords these days, but my mother does, too, so I think that's just the normal degradation of eye elasticity with age.

Actually, now that I think about it, there's a kind of symmetry there: NFL athletes subject themselves to forces much higher than others, astronauts, to forces much lower. If future explorers ever settle on a celestial body with gravity higher than Earth's, they'd probably end up like my dad from all the extra force on their spine and joints.

I think it's called "getting old" (0)

Kazoo the Clown (644526) | about 2 months ago | (#47768945)

Why should they be immune to what's happening to the rest of us?

Re:I think it's called "getting old" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768997)

Very insightful, doctor health expert for astronauts.

Oh he's not a doctor (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 months ago | (#47769871)

Oh he's not a doctor. But he did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

This is impossible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768947)

Clearly, all the sci-fi books and movies from the 1960s showed that The Species (tm) *must* colonize the universe and get off this rock.

Mars One is boned (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768951)

'nuff said.

Re:Mars One is boned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769447)

Duh, was there ever any doubt? The feckless morons that signed up for this shit will end up killing themselves when they realize no one's going.

Re:Mars One is boned (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769455)

It might not take that much gravity to minimize the degenerative effects. For all we know, it might be something minor, like say 15 minutes exposure per day to 1/8 gravity. If something like that is all the human body needs, then any future space station or deep space vessel could easily contain a small centrifugal chamber that the astronauts could take turns spending small amounts of time in.

space is now closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47768983)

And that is it. Space is off limits. For the health risks. Ignore the undeniable fact that keeping you on this planet makes you easier to control. That has nothing to do with the ban on travel to space. Continue slaving for your terrestrial lords and masters.

Re:space is now closed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769555)

Wow, that's some quality Space Nutter paranoia, drama-queenism and with some doom and gloom thrown in.

You nutcases never change.

Space is "off limits" for very simple basic physical, medical and engineering reasons. That's all there is to it. End of story.

Not enough (5, Funny)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about 2 months ago | (#47769025)

Not enough hot green alien ladies to make first contact with yet, I surmise is the root cause of this problem.

Re:Not enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47771475)

This. They just need more snu snu.

Obviously... (5, Insightful)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 2 months ago | (#47769083)

Obviously orbital habitats either need to be spun-up or contain living quarters located within centerfuges.

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769687)

(whatever "centerfuges" are)

none of that helps against eye-killing radiation. Put down the 1960s space schlock and listen to reality. No one's going anywhere.

I see what you did there... (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 2 months ago | (#47769887)

Obviously orbital habitats either need to be...

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47772601)

Obviously orbital habitats either need to be spun-up or contain living quarters located within centrifuges.

Let's see.... I'm going to read the summary, take a flying leap to a conclusion, and then solve the problem in a moment's time. And call it obvious when I'm done.

If Extant doesn't get renewed... (0)

fleabay (876971) | about 2 months ago | (#47769203)

I'll just use this article as the explanation for the whole series.

What needs to be fixed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769233)

Is the policy regarding who gets to space. This eye issue is a problem that clearly most astronauts avoided to discuss with the doctors in fear of being banned from future flights in space. The policy should either ignore any medical issues that came up during their stay in space or prevent any astronaut from going back up there a second time, in order to have more honesty from their side regarding their health and various issues that might have risen while in space.

This has been known for decades (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769293)

Astronauts have been testing each others' eyes in space for a long time. They say that they can literally feel the pressure and changes to their eyes. The biggest problem is that a long manned spaceflight, say to Mars, will almost certainly cause any pilot to become completely functionally blind by the time the return voyage is on the table. If not completely blind before they even reach the orbit of Mars.

What are the options? In flight laser eye surgery? Surgical implants? Special glasses?
Better artificial gravity? Robotic missions? Suicide missions?

Shut your coon balloons... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769325)

And listen up aight? Asternots be suffrin cuz dey bez dum ass crackers. If deys want do fings rite dey had best put niggas in spaes. Wez be de orijinul spaes travlurs.

NASA needs to get it's act together (2)

TomRC (231027) | about 2 months ago | (#47769425)

We've long known what will likely avoid these sorts of problems - create a rotating environment to simulate gravity.
While the physics principle is simple, engineering a safe rotating station is probably quite challenging.
The sort of thing NASA was created to investigate...

Re:NASA needs to get it's act together (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 months ago | (#47769709)

Another thing which I have not seen discussed is the mutation of the biota that humans carry into outer space.

We put these microbes in zero gravity, far higher background cosmic radiatio & occassional Solar storm radiation.

It will not surprise me that they mutate as a result and I certainly don't have an idea how fast or what those mutations might do.

Re:NASA needs to get it's act together (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 months ago | (#47770773)

You need a big radius, otherwise you'll get a "Gravitron" effect (an amusement park ride)... fluid in the inner ear spins in funny ways, much worse for motion sickness than zero G.

An idea posted above, a big rope with a counterweight (or maybe two sides of the station, attached by a tether), could do it, but docking will become.... challenging (and we know what happened to Challenger.)

Re:NASA needs to get it's act together (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 2 months ago | (#47771785)

We already have lots of experience building things to stand up to one gee, a suspension bridge for example can be extended until its ends meet and its cables can be attached to the opposite point. The important thing is having light strong cables.
What is really needed is some information on just how much gravity we need. I'd guess we'd do fine with Venuses 90% but what about 50% or Mars with its 33%?
Seems that fetus development would also be dependent on close to normal gravity.

My eyes! (1)

Mycroft-X (11435) | about 2 months ago | (#47769437)

But surely the goggles do something.

Maybe we do need bodies of incorruptibility (1)

landofcleve (1959610) | about 2 months ago | (#47769621)

In order to travel into the heavens as the various ancient mystics told us?

Zero-G is bad long term, but what about 1/6-G? (4, Interesting)

deathcloset (626704) | about 2 months ago | (#47769645)

This is an unintuitive wild speculation, but I wonder if these effects are a linear function of the gravity or if there is a more complex interaction.
In other words, if Alice spent 6 monts in zero-G and Bob spent 6 months in 0.166-G, and assuming equal eye health, would Bob have less damage than Alice or more?

Obviously the human body emerged out of a 1-G environment, so the eye has evolved with those pressures. But just because removing those pressures completely may result in harm, that is not to say that removing those pressures partially would be harmful.

The only non-zero-G astronauts I know of were the Apollo folks - but I can't find any information (or anectdotes from them) on the difference in physiological effects of zero-g versus 1/6th-G.

It seems like they would have experienced less intercranial pressure and would have had an actual reference for up and down.

Oh space be a harsh mistress.

Re:Zero-G is bad long term, but what about 1/6-G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47769829)

Hey don't drag Alice and Bill and the Lab of Doom and Pepsi Cola into your diatribe.

Re:Zero-G is bad long term, but what about 1/6-G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47770007)

Is there any intelligent discussion that you Republicans won't try to ruin? Please stop trying to ruin /.. The eidtors here are already doing a good job of destroying us. It is disheartening to see the Republicans also decided to join in the game. Yes, it is a game to their kind.

Re:Zero-G is bad long term, but what about 1/6-G? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 months ago | (#47770781)

Apollo was short duration, those guys were running on so much adrenaline that any findings about zero G / low G were masked by the novelty, danger and excitement of it all.

Re:Zero-G is bad long term, but what about 1/6-G? (3, Informative)

bthecohen (3802317) | about 2 months ago | (#47772413)

You hit the nail on the head: this is perhaps the most fundamental unanswered question in life support for space exploration. We simply have no idea.

Originally, the ISS was slated to have a module called the Centrifuge Accommodations Module. [wikipedia.org] It was intended to help answer this question. It contained a large centrifuge that could hold 2-foot-tall animal cages and simulate anywhere from zero to 2g. It would have been one of the most essential experiments on the station, because there is really no way to collect data on varying levels of microgravity on living organisms other than putting a centrifuge in zero g. Unfortunately, the (mostly assembled) module was cancelled in 2005.

The engineering implications for interplanetary missions are profound, in that it might be vastly more expensive to build a 1g artificial gravity centrifuge than, as you said, a 1/6g one. But we currently have absolutely no way of knowing how many Gs we need. It's a very tough problem.

I always knew astronaut was a shitty deal (1)

musth (901919) | about 2 months ago | (#47770013)

Pursued by the strivers and the authoritarians.

But won't someone consider the poor space pirates? (1)

grep -v '.*' * (780312) | about 2 months ago | (#47770047)

Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

Oh noes! All of the future Space Pirates are now in serious trouble!

Captain: Arrr, ye matys! Let's board that tiny hauler thair before they knows what hit them. Ther'll be treasure enough for us all!
Crewmember 1: Arrr, ey, capt'in!
(Captain runs to the gangway in order to board the other ship.) "Open port -- board and attaaaack!"
Crewmember 2: Ey ey, capt'in!
Crewmember 1: But Capt'in! Ey -- my ey! I can't see the controls to dock us! (Door slides open. Entire problem shortly solved.)

Thus, Global Warming [forbes.com] continues unabated. The world is doomed. News at 11.
And now, a word from our sponsor: LensCrafters is now selling asbestos-tinted glasses with cutlass frames. Hurry before supplies run out!

I wear glasses... (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | about 2 months ago | (#47770163)

My wearing glasses is proof I was abducted by aliens, right?

Nope. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 months ago | (#47770311)

That's it. I'm definitely not going into space.

NASA, please take my name off the list. I've changed my mind.

Re:Nope. (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 months ago | (#47770415)

That's it. I'm definitely not going into space.

NASA, please take my name off the list. I've changed my mind.

Dammit Pope, now you tell us! And we had the "Welcome Aboard!" party all set up for you. :^(

Signed, NASA

Cure your shortsightedness (1)

Snufu (1049644) | about 2 months ago | (#47770383)

without surgery!

Re:Cure your shortsightedness (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 months ago | (#47770795)

Cephalic hypertension is a pretty high price to pay... I'll try Lasik first.

About time! (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about 2 months ago | (#47770451)

It's a great first step for NASA, now if they can further admit that those astronauts have also come back with weird shifts in rectal geometry, we can begin to face, as a species, the deeper space facts of life.

gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47770547)

We should stop spending all this time and money trying to outsmart gravity. It's not going to happen. If we want to go to mars and beyond with any regularity we must do so in a gravity environment. We know how to do this already. We've wasted so much money on this already.

Re:gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47770841)

We should stop spending all this time and money trying to outsmart gravity. It's not going to happen. If we want to go to mars and beyond with any regularity we must do so in a gravity environment. We know how to do this already. We've wasted so much money on this already.

Not 'outsmart' the (lack of) gravity, but adapt to it. The tree that does not bend to the wind breaks.

and yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47770917)

and yet the apollo missons this was never a problem.....

Astronauts lose 20/10 eyesight! (1)

kurthr (30155) | about 2 months ago | (#47771297)

Astronauts tend to be proud of their eyesight... like Chuck Yeager:
http://www.achievement.org/aut... [achievement.org]

From the early days of test pilots and the original Right Stuff astronauts they've typically had much better than 20/20 eyesight.
So it's probably easy to detect this sort of thing, and they might be a little ticked off to loose it :^O
Of course a lot of people would go to space even if they went blind... most of us risked that in Junior High School anyway!

Re:Astronauts lose 20/10 eyesight! (1)

omtinez (3343547) | about 2 months ago | (#47771579)

Your post leads to my theory. If having such good eyesight was a requirement to be an astronaut, it would be perfectly possible that they somehow cheated their way there and once they went into space... well, mission accomplished. No need to pretend anymore, now they can put the glasses back on!

Re:Astronauts lose 20/10 eyesight! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47773085)

Michael Bay did this is Pearl Harbor however in real life there are too many people involved for this to work.

Evolutionary pressure? (1)

superdana (1211758) | about 2 months ago | (#47772059)

Imagine a world where we've got people living their whole lives, or something close to it, in space. Over time the people who are least affected by these kinds of problems would presumably have an evolutionary advantage. Long term, a whole new race of humans adapted to life in space develops.

Blind Aliens or Gravity Plating (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47772269)

This article makes me wonder if all those little gray aliens are actually blind despite having those big back eyes. That, or have they invented Gravity Plating?

Finally get us artificial gravity! (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 2 months ago | (#47772555)

seriously, making a spinning station can't be _that_ hard.

Faster engines might help (1)

lasermike026 (528051) | about 2 months ago | (#47773107)

Better launch systems and faster engines might help. The less time in microgravity, the less damage.(?) That fact we use chemical rockets to get into space and maneuver seems kind of antique.

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