Artificial Space environment on Earth: Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest

Did you ever experience bone cramps and aching back after lying on your bed after a whole day?

Studies show that the experimental model of Head-Down Tilt Bed Rest (HDBR), one of the most implemented analogs on Earth, shows similar results as experienced by microgravity during Long-duration Space Missions (LDSM).

This model is used to stimulate and study physiological restraints like reduced bone mass and skeletal muscle atrophy, thus providing an analog to examine these effects and see how the human body adapts to weightlessness on Earth.

Read: Spacesuit: Basic Life Support During Space Exploration

How is this study an analog?

Analog is comparing one thing to another. By comparing the data collected from this Head-Down Bed Rest study with the changes examined after Space travel, it becomes a ground-based analog.

However, the latest results show that this study is less representative of crucial physiological restraints like radiation effects, fluid shifts, and spinal disorders.

What does Weightlessness do to your body?

Research shows that weightlessness (zero gravity) inhibits the pull of blood to the legs, hence shifting more blood to the upper body making the person’s face appear round (“puffy-head, bird-legs” syndrome). Bed rest studies examine the same effects of weightlessness as experienced during space travel like blood shifts, muscle, and bone loss.

Read: What’s The Weather Like in Space?

Conditions for this analog:

A bed rest study was conducted in Germany co-sponsored by NASA’s Human Research Program. According to this study, participants spent 30 days in bed and had their head-down tilt by six-degree and breathe oxygen with 0.5% of carbon dioxide.

The reason to breathe carbon dioxide with oxygen was to create a carbon dioxide environment like outer Space, hence creating an artificial Space environment. These results help to conceive measures, helping astronauts on their missions as well as bed-cramped people on Earth.

What can you do while lying in bed?

These participants were given a strict diet, encouraged to do exercise, and were showered in a head-down state. The participants weren’t allowed to leave that position at all costs.

Now lying on bed and having nothing to do can be humdrum but these participants are encouraged to keep up their motivation by learning a new language and can also contact their friends and family via phone. However, meeting them in person is not allowed. Mostly, participants adhere to these strict measures solely just to promote space travel.

These conditions are mandatory to fulfill as their bodies are constantly monitored to detect changes and find their possible causes. This data collection is for detecting changes in heart rate, blood pressure, energy consumption, and nutrient absorption.

Read: What Ethical Principles should we adhere to during Space Exploration?


This microgravity analog is widely used to stimulate and test countermeasures to microgravity altered adaptations. Many scientists use these countermeasures to reduce risks caused during Long-duration exploration such as Mars. Studies like this are developing more and more to create an artificial Space environment on Earth, thus making it easier for scientists to detect the possible causes and effects of disastrous risks.

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