Thursday, December 30, 2010

iRATS Pirates


NASA Studies back in the press! I still get various questions about applying for paid studies; the money is quite good and the interview + physicals process can seem daunting, but the healthy people who make it feel a great sense of accomplishment, and seem to have positive experiences at the NASA facility on Galveston Island.

And seriously, even if you are quarantined and can only peer out windows, you could do a lot worse than Galveston Island! Sometimes it's merely the "time spent" that prohibits qualified candidates from applying, because they cannot be away from their homes for the longer protocols, which can stretch into months.

Standalone Zero Gravity Locomotion Simulator
It's the NASA logo hockey helmet that really sells it for me ;)

In 2011, however, some shorter feasibility studies are available at NASA – programs that will be far more ACTIVE and fun than those where folks are not allowed to exercise. That restriction can be nerve wracking for runners or bicyclers who are used to daily cardio! (It's a nice break for about a week, and then you get punchy!)

The goal is still to test ways to counteract the effects of low gravity, but instead of being at a head-down tilt the majority of the time, new participants will "walk up the wall" on a vertical treadmill.

The News Herald of Ohio just ran a piece about how Trials Seek To Help Astronauts and Diabetics, detailing how the tests hope to prevent loss of muscle mass and cardiovascular de-conditioning by performing treadmill exercise a few times per week… though there is that little wrinkle about having to be in "astronaut shape" to begin with.

Integrated Resistance & Aerobic Training Study (iRATS)

The Aerobic Exercise Routines website ran the same story, so I gather they are affiliated, or cross-link when the content is relevant. I hope there are more mentions out in the internet wild, so that we always keep people informed about how they can join the space program and do their part for science if they find these studies intellectually interesting and physically challenging.

Sadly, when I google 'iRATS', the first hits I get are Industrial Rope Access Technician Scheme, the Inspection Reporting And Trending System and the NASA Desert Rats! I guess that third one ain't so bad, since it's also a useful analog program that is contributing to Mars Mission Research. However, finding the new study requires quite specific keywords, so clearly we have some work to do in getting the message out!

The funniest hit came when I used Google's Wonder Wheel, which uses “visual relevance” mappings instead of text lists. I sometimes search topics there to see what related Boolean leaps the search engines come up with! It's a cool tool to play with, and can be used to narrow down topics in those instances when you know you're looking for something, but you are not quite sure what you are looking for!

Probably very useful for finding anniversary gifts =)