Space Physiology

Gravitational Effects on the Human Eye and Brain

Long term exposure to microgravity environments have been associated with ocular changes and impaired visual acuity commonly referred to as Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS). Research into SANS at Petersen Lab aims to further understand the pathophysiological mechanism behind the effects of weightlessness on the human eye.

Gravitational Effects on Muscle Strength and Mass

Entry into weightlessness causes both an immediate and a sustained cephalic shift of fluid and blood from the legs to the central circulation and in addition, sustained weightlessness with unloading of the weight bearing muscles induces atrophy. In combination, these effects of weightlessness cause a reduction in leg circumference known as “bird-leg syndrome”.

To better understand the development of this syndrome and to improve the current countermeasures, Petersen Lab are testing next-generation wearables on board the International Space Station and on the ground.

Effects of Weightlessness on the Musculo-Skeletal and Cardio Vascular System

Petersen Lab is currently part of two NASA projects designed to shed light on several negative physiological effects of microgravity during prolonged space flight.

Blood Volume Distribution in Weightlessness

Weightlessness can be created by letting an airplane perform a free fall following a parobolic trajectory. We utilize this to investigate blood volume distribution in different vascular beds in relation to gravittional stress.