Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Flashy Goggles To Combat Space Sickness?

SpaceToys.com Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas
Space sickness occurs more than the public realizes, affecting at least 60% of astronauts during and after visiting outer space. This often hampers what an astronaut can do during the first few days of flight, which can translate into lost opportunity (and perhaps lost dollars).

A new piece of technology is hoping to change all of that, by targeting an organ few have thought of before--the eyes.

(New Scientist Space) Goggles that simulate a strobe-lighting effect could prevent the nauseating effects of space sickness--and that of more down-to-Earth travel. [...]

[Millard Reschke at JSC] came up with the idea for the glasses after observing a particular astronaut who had returned from a long stay on Russia's former space station, Mir. [...]

Reschke's team noticed that the astronaut's eyes darted back and forth more than normal. The team suspected these eye jitters--known as square wave jerks--were helping to "freeze" the moving visual scene on his retina, protecting him from space sickness.

The "eye wear" resembles 3-D glasses with shutters built in that switch from dark to light extremely fast. This creates a strobe affect and in several tests has successfully proven to prevent space sickness in micro gravity.

More testing needs to be conducted, but if successful, future astronauts may be opting for the goofy glasses rather than taking drugs.

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