Finally I’ll have an excuse for lying in bed all day and watching “Law & Order” marathons! The folks over at NASA are paying $5,000 per month to participants of their bed rest study. The study lasts for 87 days and is designed to help them research the effects of zero gravity space travel on the human body.
The study takes place at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX and despite this being a cool way to help the NASA program; this could fatten your bank account by more than $15,000.
Participants in the study will spend the entire 87 days at the Johnson Space Center. Your job is to simply lie in bed, pass the time and allow the researchers to perform periodic tests on your body. It’s less creepy than it sounds..
From NASA’s website:
“During the (first 15 days) of the study, participants will be free to move around inside the bed rest facility and do normal things. They will also take part in a number of tests to find out the normal state of their bone, muscle, heart and circulatory system, brain and nervous system, and vestibular (inner ear balance) system as well as their nutritional condition and their ability to fight off infections.
After the first 11-15-day period, participants will spend 60 days lying in bed, (except for limited times for specific tests) with their body slightly tilted downward (head down, feet up). Every day, they will be awake for 16 hours and lights out (asleep) for 8 hours. During the bed rest time they will also take part in a number of tests to find out changes in the state of their bone, muscle, heart and circulatory system, and nervous system, as well as their nutritional condition and their ability to fight off infections.”
The final 14 days is a recovery period where they begin the process of helping you regain muscle strength and readjust to a normal life.
What You’ll Do
Once you’ve entered the 60 day bed rest portion of the study, your options to pass the time are, of course, somewhat limited. Every participant is setup with a TV, computer, and video game console. You can also read or spend time with visitors. The researchers suggest that every participant begin the study with a goal so that the time in bed is productive. Learn a foreign language, transcribe War & Peace, beat Pac-man, you get the idea…
All of your meals are provided for and the diet is designed to keep you at your current weight. If 3 months of watching TV and reading magazines didn’t already sound enticing, add not having to cook to that list.
Obviously if you are going to get accepted as a participant than you need to be in good health – body and mind. The application suggests that the researchers are looking for participants that resemble the average astronaut’s age and health. That probably excludes those who are, um… mature.
You need to be a non-smoker and able to pass the Air Force Medical Examination.
How to Apply
The initial application can be done online and is pretty easy. The application form requires your contact information and some basic medical history. You can fill out the application here. I also found a great interview at Wired magazine where a researcher answered common questions that prospective applicants had. You can read that here.