Tech UPTechnologySpace fever: a new threat to astronauts

Space fever: a new threat to astronauts

When exposed to weightless conditions, astronauts have a higher core body temperature than we do on Earth. This type of “space fever” appears even when the body is at rest , and this strange finding offers us more information about how human beings function outside the orbit of the Earth. The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Is the temperature rise instantaneous without gravity? No, it is gradual; It develops over a period of several months as the body adjusts to life in space without gravity, based on measurements made before, during, and after trips to the International Space Station (ISS).

After two and a half months, the astronauts’ body temperature exceeded 40 ° C during the exercise, and it was 1 ° C higher than the normal level of around 37 ° C, even when the astronauts were doing nothing at all. , as the researchers explain.

“We developed a new technology that combines a skin surface temperature sensor with a heat flow sensor, and which is capable of measuring even minor changes in the temperature of arterial blood”, clarifies Hanns-Christian Gunga, co-author of the work .

The study is part of an ongoing effort to study how we can cope with prolonged space travel, but so far little research has been done on how weightlessness affects core body temperature.

Thus, using the new ultrasensitive sensors placed on the forehead, the experts obtained readings from 11 astronauts at various times during their time aboard the ISS, beginning 90 days before their first launch flight and ending 30 days after their return to. the earth.

Aside from the temperature rise, the results showed that core body temperature increased faster in microgravity than on Earth.

Temperature and weightlessness

This is possible because the space environment interferes with key factors that regulate body temperature, including the heat we emit into our surroundings and the amount of sweat we produce to cool ourselves
(sweat evaporates more slowly in space, for example ).

“In weightless conditions, our bodies find it extremely difficult to eliminate excess heat. The transfer of heat between the body and its environment becomes significantly more challenging under these conditions,” explains Gunga.

Clearly, more research will be needed to find out more about this “space fever” and how we can combat it.

“Our results also raise questions about the evolution of our optimal core body temperature – how it has already adapted and how it will continue to adapt to climate changes on Earth,” says Gunga.

Reference: Increased core body temperature in astronauts during long-duration space missions. Alexander C. Stahn, Andreas Werner, Oliver Opatz, Martina A. Maggioni, Mathias Steinach, et al. Scientific Reports 2017. DOI: doi: 10.1038 / s41598-017-15560-w

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