NASA Downlink: Wheat Ridge High School | Summary and Q&A

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May 16, 2022
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NASA STEM
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NASA Downlink: Wheat Ridge High School

TL;DR

Astronauts have specific dietary requirements in space to maintain health, with nutritionists overseeing their calorie intake and conducting research on food and nutrient needs to combat bone loss and maintain muscle. The vestibular system in their head is affected, leading to disorientation and space sickness.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How do nutritionists ensure astronauts' diets are balanced in space?

Nutritionists at Johnson Space Center work closely with astronauts to design a diet that promotes bone and muscle health while maintaining weight. They consider factors like protein intake, calcium, and fat, striking a delicate balance to prevent muscle and bone loss.

Q: How does microgravity affect the semicircular canal fluid in an astronaut's head?

Microgravity disrupts the vestibular system, leading to confusion and disorientation. While the semicircular canals still function with the shifting fluid, the otolith organs that sense gravity do not work properly, causing a disconnected sense of motion and contributing to early space sickness.

Q: If astronauts could change one thing about their daily life in space, apart from having loved ones, what would it be?

Many astronauts express a desire for more and larger windows on the space station. The added mass and potential structural risks limit the number and size of windows currently available, but larger, bay-like windows would provide a more immersive and awe-inspiring view of outer space.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Nutritionists at Johnson Space Center help astronauts maintain a balanced diet in space, considering factors like protein, calcium, and fat to promote muscle and bone health while preventing negative effects.

  • Astronauts experience disorientation and space sickness due to the confusion of the vestibular system, which relies on both ear and eye signals for motion detection.

  • Astronauts desire more and larger windows on the space station to enhance their experience and connection with outer space.

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