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Official NASA Communication 92-130

Official NASA Communication 92-130

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Published by: NASAdocuments on Oct 05, 2007
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Paula Cleggett-HaleimHeadquarters, Washington, D.C.August 13, 1992(Phone: 202/358-0883)2:00 p.m. EDTJane HutchisonAmes Research Center, Mountain View, Calif.(Phone: 415/604-9000)RELEASE: 92-130SPACELAB STUDIES FEATURE FROG EGGS AND SPACE MOTIONSICKNESSHow will frog eggs develop in the weightlessness of spaceflight? Can astronauts learn to control the symptoms of spacemotion sickness?Scientists from NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountain View,Calif., will seek answers to these and other questions during thenext Space Shuttle flight in early September. Their experimentsare part of the Spacelab-J mission, a 7-day joint space venture of the United States and Japan.Tadpole Development in SpaceKenneth A. Souza, Principal Investigator for the frogembryology experiment, said fertilized amphibian eggs -- unlikethose of most organisms -- show an obvious response to gravity.His experiment should answer a basic biological question: whethergravity is essential for the normal fertilization of frog eggs andthe early development of frogs.The frog egg is a small, 1-2 millimeter (.04 to .08 inch)spherical cell, clearly divided into a darkly pigmented hemisphere
and a lightly colored hemisphere rich in yolk. On Earth,fertilized frog eggs always orient themselves when fertilized sothe heavy, lightly pigmented hemisphere is at the "bottom" of theegg, Souza said.Although frog eggs were studied previously in space, "This isthe first time we can fertilize them in space and watch theirdevelopment through hatching," Souza said. "The stage mostsensitive to gravity changes and the stage at which the symmetry-- left, right and head-tail location -- of the frog isestablished occurs shortly after fertilization. This criticalstage was missed by previous spaceflight studies."- more -- 2 -Four female South African clawed frogs will be carried intospace in a special "frog box." Early in the mission, a crewmember will inject the frogs with a hormone which stimulates themto shed their eggs. A sperm solution will be added later tofertilize the eggs.Some of the eggs will develop under the microgravity of spaceflight. Others will develop on an onboard centrifuge that createsa gravity force equal to Earth's. A video camera in the Shuttlewill allow Souza and his collaborators to observe the eggs as theydevelop from eggs to tadpoles.The scientists will study the embryos and tadpoles after theflight to compare them with others developed on Earth. Dr. MurielRoss, a neurobiologist at Ames, will study the development of balance organs in the inner ear. Dr. Richard Wassersug of Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, will observe theswimming pattern and behavior of the tadpoles. Dr. Steven Blackof Reed College, Portland, Ore., will compare the development of embryos grown under weightless conditions to those given simulatedgravity on the on-board centrifuge.Easing Space Motion SicknessSpacelab-J will offer another opportunity to look atalleviating the symptoms of space motion sickness. Amesscientist Dr. Patricia Cowings and her colleagues will test theeffectiveness of autogenic feedback training (AFT) in easing thesymptons of motion sickness. Cowings developed AFT -- a
combination of biofeedback and autogenic therapy (a learned,self-regulation technique) -- at Ames.Cowings, who first successfully tested the technique on twoastronauts during a Space Shuttle flight in 1985, said AFT hasseveral advantages over using medication to treat motion sicknesssymptoms."AFT produces relief with as little as 6 hours of trainingand it reduces the behavioral and physiological reactions to eventhe most provocative motion sickness stimuli," she said. "Inaddition, there are no side-effects such as sleepiness, reducedshort-term memory or blurred vision, as there may be with drugs."Cowings added that AFT is effective in a wide range of individualsand people remember the training a long time.Over the past 19 years, Cowings has trained more than 200individuals, including military pilots, in autogenic feedback.She observed significant improvement in motion tolerance in 85percent of them.- more -- 3 -During the Spacelab-J mission, two crew members will wearspecial instruments to record their physiological responses asthey move about the Spacelab and carry out normal mission tasks.A portable, battery-powered monitoring system worn on the beltwill record such physiological measurements as skin temperature,respiration rate and the heart's electrical currents. One crewmember is AFT-trained. Another, non-AFT-trained, crew memberserves as a control."If we're to have a permanent presence in space, we must knowhow gravity affects the development of life at the cellularlevel," said Sally Schofield, Ames' payload scientist. "We alsomust understand how people adapt to microgravity and find ways toease this process. Ames' experiments address these issues."Greg Schmidt, Ames' payload manager, said his team is anxiousto get the mission under way. "Thirty people at Ames have workedfor over 8 years getting ready for this mission," he said. "Weare very excited about our role in this international mission.We're ready to go."

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