August 1, 2015.
NASA’s endeavor to engage in long-haul space travel, requires a human defense system against harmful environments in space. Muscle atrophy and bone mass loss are documented effects of long term exposure to space flight environment and microgravity. Our aim is to approach an adaptation to extreme environments on the biological level, rather than simulate a terrestrial environment in space. A correlation has been shown between metabolic suppression and the protection of biological organisms from damaging effects of space environments. Certain bacteria and invertebrates have indicated a link between the reduction and suspension of metabolism, and surviving exposure to cosmic radiation. For example, hibernating black bears showed no loss in bone mass and less muscle atrophy than was expected over 6 – 8 months of inactivity. Our goal is to test the hypothesis that metabolic suppression is a feasible means of adapting animal models to extreme conditions, and to extrapolate this method to the human scale. We will expose both a group of hibernating snails and active snails, to intense radiation and monitor their metabolic rate and muscular response to environmental change. We can then quantify the extent to which metabolic suppression provides defense against the hazards of space flight.
NASA Ames Research Center (ARC)
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation. This project has also been made possible with support of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The STAR program is administered by the Cal Poly Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education (CESaME) on behalf of the California State University (CSU).