The Value of Biomedical Simulation Environments to Future Human Space Flight MissionsWith the ambitious goals to send manned missions to asteroids and onto Mars, substantial work will be required to ensure the well being of the men and women who will undertake these difficult missions. Unlike current International Space Station or Shuttle missions, astronauts will be required to endure long-term exposure to higher levels of radiation, isolation and reduced gravity. These new operation conditions will pose health risks that are currently not well understood and perhaps unanticipated. Therefore, it is essential to develop and apply advanced tools to predict, assess and mitigate potential hazards to astronaut health. NASA s Digital Astronaut Project (DAP) is working to develop and apply computational models of physiologic response to space flight operation conditions over various time periods and environmental circumstances. The collective application and integration of well vetted models assessing the physiology, biomechanics and anatomy is referred to as the Digital Astronaut. The Digital Astronaut simulation environment will serve as a practical working tool for use by NASA in operational activities such as the prediction of biomedical risks and functional capabilities of astronauts. In additional to space flight operation conditions, DAP s work has direct applicability to terrestrial biomedical research by providing virtual environments for hypothesis testing, experiment design, and to reduce animal/human testing. A practical application of the DA to assess pre and post flight responses to exercise is illustrated and the difficulty in matching true physiological responses is discussed.
Mulugeta, Lealem (Universities Space Research Association Houston, TX, United States)
Myers, Jerry G. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Skytland, Nicholas G. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)
Platts, Steven H. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston, TX, United States)