NASA investigates how to keep crew healthy during deep space missions

Now that we're this close to sending humans to Mars, NASA thought it best to start preparing for one of its biggest goals: deep space exploration. Three NASA Ames Research Center studies that aim to explore the effects of deep space exploration on astronauts' health just got a total of $17 million in funding. One of the proposals is looking for ways to mitigate spatial disorientation after a lengthy space flight, while another will use rats to determine how the skeleton will respond to a long exposure to microgravity. The last proposal hopes to develop augmented displays for robotic missions sent to the surfaces of planets, moons, asteroids and the like. NASA's hoping these studies can shed light on how deep space missions affect human eyesight, bone density, and cardiovascular functions, not to mention their impact on people's behavioral and mental health. Of course, $17 million likely won't be enough to get all the answers we're looking for, but that can at least keep those studies chugging along for one to three years.

[Image credit: NASA]