When you land, can you stand? One-Year Mission video miniseries: Functional performance

April 08, 2015

Historically, in competitions you always want to be the last man standing. At NASA, optimal functional performance, such as standing, is taken even more seriously. When astronauts return to Earth from working on the International Space Station in a weightless environment for an extended period, it takes time for their bodies to readjust to an environment with gravity. Even standing upright can be a challenge, but it is crucial for their job performance as NASA looks at longer missions in the future and landing humans on Mars.

Researchers are conducting several Human Research Program investigations as part of NASA's One-Year Mission, including investigations that examine the changes in performance of functional tasks. The goal is to learn more about how the human body responds to a long-term, low-gravity environment. Results of these investigations may also benefit patients on Earth that are recuperating from a long period of bed rest.

When planning for Mars operations and other deep space missions, it is important that astronauts be able to conduct specific tasks when landing on a planet. The Field Test and Functional Task Test examine functional performance when astronauts return to Earth's gravity after months of weightlessness. Standing is one example of the performance elements needed on a mission to Mars, but there are many other systems in the body that influence the ability to complete critical tasks. These investigations will look at neurosensory networks, hand-eye movements, fluid distribution and cardiovascular and skeletal muscle performance as a complete picture of functional performance.

Researchers hope to develop a recovery timeline for crew members and evaluate methods to help retrain the body's ability to carry out necessary tasks. These methods and tests will mimic potential astronaut activities and their capability to perform them after they trek the six or eight months to Mars.

As NASA stands-up to its next big challenge, studies like these are essential for keeping astronauts in optimal performance.
-end-
NASA's Human Research Program enables space exploration beyond low Earth orbit by reducing the risks to human health and performance through a focused program of basic, applied and operational research. This leads to the development and delivery of: human health, performance, and habitability standards; countermeasures and risk mitigation solutions; and advanced habitability and medical support technologies.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwxtJTKIKaU

NASA/Johnson Space Center

Related Mars Articles from Brightsurf:

Water on ancient Mars
A meteorite that originated on Mars billions of years ago reveals details of ancient impact events on the red planet.

Surprise on Mars
NASA's InSight mission provides data from the surface of Mars.

Going nuclear on the moon and Mars
It might sound like science fiction, but scientists are preparing to build colonies on the moon and, eventually, Mars.

Mars: Where mud flows like lava
An international research team including recreated martian conditions in a low-pressure chamber to observe the flow of mud.

What's Mars made of?
Earth-based experiments on iron-sulfur alloys thought to comprise the core of Mars reveal details about the planet's seismic properties for the first time.

The seismicity of Mars
Fifteen months after the successful landing of the NASA InSight mission on Mars, first scientific analyses of ETH Zurich researchers and their partners reveal that the planet is seismically active.

Journey to the center of Mars
While InSight's seismometer has been patiently waiting for the next big marsquake to illuminate its interior and define its crust-mantle-core structure, two scientists, have built a new compositional model for Mars.

Getting mac and cheese to Mars
Washington State University scientists have developed a way to triple the shelf life of ready-to-eat macaroni and cheese, a development that could have benefits for everything from space travel to military use.

Life on Mars?
Researchers from Hungary have discovered embedded organic material in a Martian meteorite found in the late 1970s.

New evidence of deep groundwater on Mars
Researchers at the USC Arid Climate and Water Research Center (AWARE) have published a study that suggests deep groundwater could still be active on Mars and could originate surface streams in some near-equatorial areas on Mars.

Read More: Mars News and Mars Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.