Mission 3 — NASA Space Simulation and Training Project: NEEMO VI.

Mission 3 — NASA Space Simulation and Training Project: NEEMO VI.

Principal Investigator: Bill Todd, NASA/United Space Alliance
Training: July 6-10
Mission: July 12-21

NEEMO 6: A 10-Day Mission Dedicated to Biomedical Engineering Research for Spaceflight Application

The unique microgravity environment during spaceflight induces changes in the human physiology system such that appropriate countermeasures must be developed to ensure crew health. The Biomedical Systems Division at the Johnson Space Center is tasked with the duties to identify, develop, verify, and certify hardware for space flight to meet requirements intended to maintain crew health on-orbit, including environmental monitoring hardware, medical systems, and countermeasure systems. The purpose of the biomedical evaluations that will be performed on NEEMO 6 is to evaluate advanced medical system concepts as candidate flight hardware in a space analog environment. Additional objectives of NEEMO 6 are to:

Expose the astronaut/scientist crew to a real mission experience in an extreme environment to prepare for future spaceflight.

Collaborate with other organizations (universities, other NASA Centers, other JSC Directorates) to develop an integrated program for future NEEMO missions.

Obtain data that can be used for comparison to future ground-analog studies.

Some of the specific scientific experiments being conducted on this mission include:

Constant Force Resistive Exercise Unit (CFREU) - The proposed evaluation will contribute to the development of practical and useful exercise countermeasure by introducing and evaluating a novel resistive exercise machine, the Constant Force Resistance Exercise Unit (CFREU). The CFREU is designed to exercise muscle groups at a constant force concentrically and eccentrically throughout an entire range of motion during exercise. The objective during the NEEMO 6 mission is to evaluate the CFREU for ease of use, reliability, maintenance, and cycle life in an ISS analog setting.

Silver Ion Technology - Microbial growth within an enclosed, isolated environment such as the International Space Station could pose a potential health hazard to crewmembers. The moist, enclosed, and isolated Aquarius habitat is an ideal environment in which to evaluate existing commercial silver ion technology as a potential microbial countermeasure. Such technology may be useful in minimizing the presence of numerous types of microbial organisms. The objective of this evaluation is to determine the efficacy of the silver ion technology as an antimicrobial in the space analog environment of Aquarius. Microbial samples will be collected on specific mission days from various areas of the habitat and evaluated using ISS hardware that is currently certified for use on orbit.

Wireless physiological monitoring system - The objective of this evaluation is to determine the usefulness of a particular commercial wireless medical monitoring device inside a metal-walled habitat and in the water during dive excursions. Parameters for data acquisition include heart rate/activity, skin temperature, and core boy temperature. Procedures for operating the hardware, ease of use of the system, and comfort/practicality during use will also be evaluated.

Wireless tracking hardware- Hardware systems are currently in use in hospitals to identify the location of hospital staff and emergency equipment when emergency response is required. Such systems use wireless transmitters and receivers or infrared technology for position tracking. On orbit, such technology may be useful to the crew surgeon when a transmitter is worn by a crewmember during an emergency medical contingency. Additionally, transmitters can be tagged to portable crew health equipment on ISS as a means of inventory tracking, or quickly identifying the location of certain hardware when needed. The objective of this hardware evaluation is to determine the efficacy of the tracking signal in the metal-walled Aquarius environment. Two systems will be evaluated and compared: transmitter-receiver and infrared.

Portable Bone Quality Assessment Device - Rice University and the JSC Biomedical Systems Division have developed a hand-held acoustic device prototype as a potential tool to evaluate bone density changes during long-term microgravity missions. The objective during this mission is to test the portable device for non-invasive evaluation of bone quality in the spaceflight analog provided by Aquarius for the ease-of-use of the acoustic probe and its procedures, and the ability to communicate successfully with the PI from the remote environment.

Stretch as a countermeasure- Benefits of muscle stretching may include decrease risk of injury, decrease joint stiffness, and increase in muscle strength. Proprioceptive neuromusclar faciliation (PNF) stretches incorporate isometric contractions of the muscle to increase the compliance of the muscle. As a result, the stretcher will achieve greater range of motion during an exercise routine than standard stretching alone. In addition, the isometric contraction results in an increase in the muscle strength at the applied joint angle. It has been demonstrated that PNF stretching alone can increase isotonic strength and strength endurance in college aged men and women. If PNF were applied to spaceflight, the potential results could lead to: Reduced crew time during resistive exercise on orbit and during pre-flight training sessions. Reduced wear on the resistive exercise hardware (decreased cycle life and need for in-flight maintenance and resupply).

Lower overall resistive capability requirements on hardware.

The application of PNF during periods when a “back-up” to the primary resistive exercise hardware is required.

An overall improvement in strength gains on orbit.

The objective of this experiment is to evaluate an individual's ability to perform PNF stretches in a neutrally buoyant environment (in the water) as a pilot study for an overall larger study proposed by the University of Texas Medical Branch to investigate PNF as a potential on-orbit exercise countermeasure.

Smart Health Care: Wireless Sensor Networks - Wireless sensor network systems provide the infrastructure for easily and quickly deployable environmental sensors without requiring wired power or data interfaces. The network “motes” contain the processor and radio modules, as well as interfaces for a variety of sensor inputs. The Crossbow mesh network motes are self-organizing, with RF signals either transmitted directly to the wired “gateway” (network interface) or multi-hopping mote-to-mote as needed to move about RF barriers until arriving at the gateway.

The objective of this evaluation is to test the ease of setting up and reconfiguring a network of Crossbow motes with an on-board temperature sensor and acquiring the data via the gateway board attached to a laptop. Parameters to be recorded will be the actual temperature data as well as the number of hops per signal. Several configurations of the network will be tested.

Smart Health Care: Bluetooth Technology Evaluation - A number of portable physiological and environmental monitors depend upon an RS232 serial interface with a laptop to download the data collected. Normally this interface is implemented by physically attaching an RS232 cable to the monitor and to the serial port on the laptop. The objective is to replace the RS232 cable connection with a Bluetooth connection and downloading the VitalSense physiological data to the laptop wirelessly. There are two Bluetooth devices required: a datasphere/RS/B Serial Adapter for the VitalSense Monitor and an Iogear Bluetooth to USB Adapter for the laptop. Experimental procedures for transmitting the data between the monitor and the laptop will include several locations and distances between each other.