Feeds

Dutch boffin, astronaut in space-sickness breakthrough

Space-flying Dutchman and PhD student team vs astronausea

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A Dutch PhD student believes she may have developed a ground-based method useful for identifying people who are subject to space sickness, following lengthy research during which she whirled astronauts around in a centrifuge.

Suzanne Nooij defended her thesis yesterday at the Delft University of Technology. While Nooij herself has never been an astronaut, her research was supervised by Professor Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutchman in space*.

Wubbo Ockels back in his astronaut days

Wubbo Ockels, first Dutchman in space -

and astronausea sufferer.

Essentially, Suzanne - backed by Wubbo - contends that an astronaut who will suffer so-called Space Adaptation Syndrome (SAS) in microgravity conditions will also suffer it after being vigorously centrifuged at 3G for an hour or so. The spinning and attendant squashing are apparently "not unpleasant", but once you get out of the centrifuge you'll puke - if you're the type who'll get SAS, anyway.

Thus, runs the thinking, the nausea is not the result of zero-G per se, but simply of changing to a different gravitational environment. This was demonstrated, apparently, by spinning 15 former astronauts - who had suffered SAS in orbit - in the big funhouse at the Centre for Man and Aviation in Soesterberg. It doesn't say here whether Ockels - who suffered from space queasiness when he flew on the space shuttle in 1985 - was one of the 15.

It also appears that there is a relationship between having left and right inner ear mechanisms which are asymmetric, and suffering from space sickness.

"People could not be classified as sensitive or non-sensitive on the basis of this asymmetry alone," said Nooij, "but could on the basis of a combination of various otolith and canal features."

All this would seem to suggest that a combination of centrifuging and detailed inner-ear scans might allow astronaut selection programmes - which are underway with both NASA and ESA at present - to eliminate people likely to get SAS at an early stage. Apparently, at the moment about half of space aces spend their first few days in orbit feeling horribly ill or even suffering hallucinations.

Nooij also believes that her research may have relevance to "the application of artificial gravity during space flight". ®

Bootnote

*If you think that this article was primarily motivated by the chance to write "Wubbo Ockels, the first Dutchman in space", there may be a grain of truth to your thoughts. More on Ockels from NASA here.

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.