Scientists have developed a hi-tech sleeping bag that could stop astronauts' eyeballs from squashing in space
- A new
sleeping bagmay stop astronauts' eyeballs squashing in zero-gravity, per a study reported by the BBC.
- The bags created a vacuum which sucked body fluids from the head towards the feet, the study found.
Spending more than six months in zero-gravity can have a negative impact on astronauts' vision, potentially leaving them with flattened eyeballs, swollen optic nerves, and bad eyesight, according to a 2011 study published in the journal the American Academy of Ophthalmology.
Now, scientists led by by Dr. Benjamin Levines at the University of Texas Southwest Medical Center have developed a sleeping bag that creates a vacuum to pull fluid away from the head towards the feet, relieving pressure on the brain and the
Gravity on Earth means that fluid pressure that builds around the brain when lying down drains when we stand up. But researchers had found that, in the zero-gravity conditions of spaceflight, body fluids can accumulate in the head, putting pressure on the eyeballs, and causing a condition called spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, per the BBC.
As part of the study, a dozen participants spent three days lying flat with eight hours in the sleeping bags and another three days lying flat without using the sleeping bags, the BBC reported.
The study found that the cone-shaped sleeping bags – which fit around the waist and have a solid outer-frame – stopped body fluids from changing the shape of the participants' eyeballs, per the BBC.
"We don't know how bad the effects might be on a longer flight, like a two-year Mars operation," Levine told the BBC. "It would be a disaster if astronauts had such severe impairments that they couldn't see what they're doing and it compromised the mission."
Levine told the BBC that he's working on sending the device to the International Space Station (ISS) for astronauts to use.
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