Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Pillownauting Across the Atlantic!


PILLOWNAUT has crossed the pond! Well, would you look at that, I [accidentally] coined a word that hopped continents.

 Back in 2008, when I began flight simulations at NASA, I named my blog "Pillow Astronaut" as a joke. Bedrest to be an analog to weightlessness? And our best luxury was a pillow? It's a nonsense combination of Latin and Greek root words, and then I made it worse by shortening it to "pillownaut" for the web URL.

The Original Pillownauts
Devin, me, Candace & Deron - 2008

A few NASA writers hopped on board, and also used the term when reporting about our project on the servers. Then, FOX news got hold of us, and publicity spread to many parts of the world. Over the next year, both and POPSCI would also use the term in articles about various NASA  projects in the Flight Analog Program.

Our little press crew certainly weren't the first analogs, but for some odd reason, the stories struck a nerve with folks at that time, and we happened to become the most visible. Sometimes that was great (astronauts came to visit!) and other times, that had a significant downside (wow did I get freaky emails from a lot of random goofballs!)

Pillownauts Getting Up!
Kjell, Devin (back!), me & Marcus

The studies are still going strong at the NASA facility where we once lived, and such research projects have eexploded to even greater public attention with the Mars500 simulation, a joint project between the ESA, Roskosmos and CNSA.

It was with no small amount of amusement that I see the ESA's newly announced bedrest study calls their participants... wait for it... PILLOWNAUTS.

As of December 2012, the announcement came for the first of three phases for a long term study: Six Degrees of Inclination.  The newly created Bedrest Study website of the ESA has a myriad of juicy details and goals

Happily, one of the participants in the newest ESA study found my blog and emailed me about his experiences!  I'll be sharing those later this week, so stay tuned for Pillownauts, the European Version...