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Thu, Sep 19, 1991 PCLEGGETT HQNEWSROOM SLS-1 RELEASE
12:33 PM EDT
Paula Cleggett-Haleim NASA Headquarters 202/453-1547 Kari Fluegel Johnson Space Center 713/483-5111 Jane Hutchison Ames Research Center 415/604-4968 Early Results From Life Sciences Mission Show _______ Scientists reporting preliminary results from the Spacelab Life Sciences-1 mission, flown last June, say strong scientific discoveries are forthcoming. Already indications are that the 9-day mission has provided new technology, offered first-time direct measurements and validated ground-based models. The findings are relevant to the health of spaceflight crews as well as important clinical problems. "The mission has exceeded our expectations. Although the results are preliminary, there is significant, new information that is changing our understanding of how humans adapt to spaceflight," said Dr. Arnauld Nicogossian, Director of NASA's Life Sciences Division. Highlighted below are preliminary findings of SLS-1 experiments, which involved interrelated studies of human and animal adaptation to space: Renal/Endocrine System: (kidneys, blood cells, fluids) Consistent with findings from similar experiments, white blood cell responsiveness, which helps the body fight infections, decreased. However scientists observed that that function can be increased twofold with the use of microcarriers--small glass beads that promote cell interaction, which is essential for normal functioning. Preliminary results from the blood volume study show that within the first 24 hours of space flight, the volume of blood decreases by more than 10 percent in astronauts. The redistribution of blood that occurs during spaceflight causes the blood volume to be less than optimal upon return to Earth. Readaptation results from an increase in plasma volume over several hours and red blood cell mass over a few days. Astronauts have a reduced red blood cell mass after exposure to space. Various hypotheses have been made to account for this
reduction, but they remain unproven. For the first time the kidney's role in compensating for weightlessness was studied. Preliminary analysis shows very early changes occur in body compartment analysis and hormone results. Scientists say the importance of the renal involvement in blood volume and pressure control must now be considered in the assessment of the health status of spaceflight crews. Cardiovascular/Cardiopulmonary Systems (lungs, heart, blood vessels) Direct and continuous measurement of central venous pressure using a cathetor produced unexpected results that suggested that much of the cardiovascular adaptation to space occurs on the launch pad and during launch. The lung function was thought to be gravity-dependent; that is on Earth, the air flow goes more to the upper lung with blood flow greater at the bottom. Scientists expected that this imbalance would disappear in a weightless environment. However, it was retained in space. The inference is that the distribution of air and blood flow is not gravity dependent; scientists will have to look for other explanations to this phenomena. Other studies demonstrated that decreased responsiveness of the blood vessels may contribute to cardiovascular deconditioning. The first measurement of human baroreflex function (blood pressure) was taken during this mission, the results of which document major impairment of this function in space. This experiment has been based on a unique method of studying this function; new technology was developed that is available commercially. Physicians are able to quantify baroreflex changes. Also, an important achievement of the mission was to validate aspects of bedrest studies that simulate changes that occur during weightlessness. . Neurovestibular (brain and nerves, eyes, and inner ear) The jellyfish, flown for the first time, metamorphosed from one form--polyps--to another--ephyrae--in space. Both ephyrae which formed on earth and those that formed in space could pulse and swim. Space-formed jellyfish and ground-based controls are being studied in detail to determine whether there are differences in their structure or behavior. Preliminary results from studying gravity receptors, which help people orient their bodies, indicated that they are well organized to adapt to space. Musculoskeletal (muscles and bones) Preliminary findings indicate that both ground control and flight rats gained the same amount of weight. Bone length in both groups was comparable, although differences in thickness of the cranium were noted. It also appears that while the bone continued to grow and add mineral, the bone strength is less than would be predicted by mass and mineral content. Early analysis of samples from four crewmembers indicated
increased calcium excretion and bone mineral loss. Muscles showed a significant decrease in muscle mass resulting from exposure to weightlessness, an indication of muscle fiber atrophy. In addition, there was a reduction in the use of certain fatty acids as a usable energy source. These changes reflect the reduced gravity load and may impair the ability of a muscle to perform normally. SLS-1 scientists will continue to review data collected during the mission. Detailed written reports will produced by mid-1992. The findings from SLS-1 will be further investigated The SLS-1 investigations will be continued in the upcoming SLS-2 mission, scheduled for mid-1993. The Spacelab Life Sciences-1 mission is managed by NASA Johnson Space Center for the Office of Space Science and Applications. Action? Command? BYE
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