Will Sleeping in a Centrifuge Help Combat Muscle Atrophy in Space?

Preventing astronauts' muscles from withering away clears another hurdle on the road to Mars

Spin Cycle Room

Centrifuging the future inhabitants of the red planetvia Fundacion Telefonica

Of the many obstacles preventing manned travel to Mars, spending over a year weightless ranks as one of the biggest. Extended weightlessness degrades the muscles and bones of astronauts so thoroughly that by the time they get to Mars, they may not have the strength to walk on it.

However, a new study suggests that artificial gravity may help solve the problem. The study involved fifteen healthy men spending three weeks doing nothing but lying in bed, a level of inactivity that mimics weightlessness. (It's also a level of inactivity that mimics freelance blogging, but I digress.)

Half of the men took a whirl in a NASA centrifuge for an hour every day. The centrifuge produced two and a half times the regular strength of gravity on Earth, and that was enough to stave off the muscle deterioration seen in the other members of the experiment.

Ok, so the ship that goes to Mars will have to have a centrifuge workout room. Now that the weightlessness problem is solved, someone needs to get on that pesky cosmic ray radiation issue.