Public Radio Documentary Series on Biomedical Science for Space Travelers
Morehouse School of Medicine, in collaboration with AETC, produced a six-part documentary series on the effects of space travel on the human body. The series focuses on the areas of space biomedical research that have important ramifications for human health.
The topics covered in the radio series are:
- The Human Clock: Does your body clock say "sleep" when it’s time to wake up? According to experts, most of us are not getting enough sleep. We need to respect the "body clock", the normal biological timing for sleep and waking. The human body clock can be regulated on earth, but it can be hard to manage in space, where there is an absence of the regular 24-hour light and dark cycles. What can we learn from the way our brain registers the light and dark changes in space, and what applications do these changes have for regulating our internal 24-hour clocks on earth?
- The Enigma Force: Scientists have spent years studying how gravity affects body systems like circulation, digestion, and balance. Now NASA is conducting experiments to artificially simulate the earth’s gravity in space. It is believed that by exercising in a "normal" environment, astronauts will suffer less from the health problems of zero gravity. Plans are underway for Trans-Hab, an inflatable working, living, and sleeping habitat that simulates different gravity environments. In the meantime, gravity experiments take place on the infamous "Vomit Comet" a KC-135 aircraft that simulates zero gravity by flying in a series of steep parabolas. On the KC-135, future astronauts get their first gut-wrenching exposure to weightlessness, and lucky science students try out weird and wonderful experiments while walking on the ceiling.
- Space Aging: " Space Aging" examines the discoveries that are being made about bone loss, cardiovascular disease and muscle atrophy, conditions that are experienced by astronauts on extended space missions and by the elderly here on earth. "Space Aging" takes you to Boston, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore to hear from scientists, doctors and astronauts at the forefront of this research into the links between space travel and the aging process.
- Getting Your Bearings: Losing your balance and feeling dizzy? It happens when we’re in motion, and when we grow older, and now astronauts are trying to figure out why. What disturbs our equilibrium when we get seasickness or motion sickness? Some of the problems of balance here on earth—like spatial disorientation and nausea, for example—are experienced by astronauts in outer space as well as by earth bound people as they age. " Getting Your Bearings" explores the body’s complex neurovestibular system that controls our ability to balance and to adapt to shifts in orientation and environment.
- Telemedicine: Health Over the Horizon: Distance medicine has been around for most of this century. In the early days, doctors treated patients in remote locations by communication via wireless radio and by sending diagnostic samples through the mail. Today, communication is done digitally and it’s called telemedicine. On an extended space flight, the need to consult, diagnose and deliver effective medical care when the doctor is far away from the patients is crucial. Scientists are developing hardware and software to facilitate this. Whether it’s a case of storing blood samples so they will stay fresh during a three-year voyage to mars or installing a microchip inside the body to measure vital signs, telemedicine is revolutionizing medical care in space.
- The Long Distance Patient: In the high tech world of NASA and the military, the concept of remote medical consultations from the isolation of an orbiting spacecraft or a ship on international patrol has been accepted and well known for some time. But telemedicine also plays an increasingly important role in the lives of ordinary people. This program explores the increasingly common use of video links and telemetry to treat patients in isolated or difficult locations, where ordinary consultations with specialists would require long expensive journeys to far away cities. From the original Flying Doctors in Australia to the treatment of inmates in high security jails, telemedicine has dramatically changed the way many of us interact with our physicians.
Exploring Two Frontiers
This one-hour television documentary, Exploring Two Frontiers: The Neurolab Space Shuttle, chronicles the sixteen-day life science Neurolab Life Science Space Mission, April 16, - May 3, 1998. Through engaging personal stories, the audience sees some of the clinical applications that Neurolab experiments have for people nationwide. Viewers also meet the scientists (Principal Investigators), crewmembers, and behind-the-scenes professionals who worked for years to ensure a successful mission.
The film aired on PBA-TV30, Atlanta, on December 29, 31, 1998. It will be syndicated throughout the nation in 1999.
The film was done in partnership with the Atlanta Educational Telecommunications Collaborative, Inc., and Public Broadcasting Atlanta-TV 30.