Survival: More Info
Explore more extreme environments
During our production for QUEST, we had hoped to include space as an additional environment that challenges the homeostasis of the human body. However, program time was limited. Here, we offer information from that segment, featuring New Hampshire scientist and astronaut, Jay C. Buckey, Jr., research associate professor of medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. Having studied the results on humans of lack of oxygen and air pressure in space, Dr. Buckey brings his knowledge to the field of hyperbaric medicine, using oxygen to heal. In his work, he uses the hyperbaric chamber that is more commonly known as the device to decompress divers who suffer from "the bends," (what happens to someone re-surfacing after experiencing too much pressure under the sea). Dr. Buckey uses the chamber to deliver more oxygen to a patient's cells, treating such problems as post-radiation damage to tissues, carbon monoxide poisoning, chronic infections, burns, and problem wounds such as non-healing ulcers and skin grafts.
Several of Dr. Buckey's students received a grant to perform experiments under weightlessness at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Calling themselves the "Dream Team," these undergraduate women investigated simple exercises that might help astronauts deal with weakening muscles in space (another issue of human adaptation to the extreme environment of space travel).
What an opportunity for these women! The Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program gives students a chance to conduct experiments aboard NASA's KC-135 plane.
NASA offers several lesson plans regarding homeostasis in space that provide excellent source material for this topic.