Aerospace engineering alum Clay Anderson is involved in a variety of experiments designed to improve life in space and on Earth during his assignment onboard the International Space Station (ISS). He is the first ISS crew member to participate in a study of how living in a microgravity environment affects the cardiovascular system. In this study sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency, researchers are measuring how Anderson’s blood pressure is regulated and how his heart rate fluctuates as he goes about his daily routine.
According to a NASA article about the study, one of the concerns related to long-duration space missions is that the cardiovascular system gets lazy when it does not have to work against gravity. As a result, more blood is stored in the veins and less blood is pumped up to the brain causing lightheadedness when astronauts return to Earth’s gravity. By learning more about how the heart and blood vessels work in the microgravity environment, researchers will be able to determine countermeasures that will help prevent these ill effects. Researchers are also using these methods to investigate the incidence of fainting and falling in the elderly. For more information about this project, see Cardiovascular System Gets ‘Lazy’ in Space; New Study Gets Blood Flowing on Station.
To read about other AerE alumni and undergraduates at NASA, see Alums contribute to NASA mission and Undergrads share NASA co-op experiences at JSC.