NASA Selects Proposals to Study Adaptation and Response for Astronaut Missions to Moon, Mars

An astronaut descends the ladder to explore the lunar surface. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA selected 21 proposals to help answer questions about astronaut health and performance during future long-duration missions beyond low-Earth orbit. The proposals will investigate biological, physiological, and behavioral adaptations during spaceflight in support of NASA’s crewed Artemis  missions to the Moon and future human exploration of Mars.

The investigations will take place in research laboratories and ground-based analog facilities used to mimic various aspects of the spaceflight environment. Among the studies

  • Brian Crucian, Senior Scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will examine how the immune system responds to lunar dust exposure;
  • Ana Diaz Artiles, Assistant Professor in Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University, will use parabolic flight to investigate the impact of lower levels of gravity than experienced on Earth, on manual coordination tasks relevant for space exploration; and
  • Wayne Nicholson, Professor of Microbiology and Cell Science at the University of Florida, will evaluate the survival and potency of probiotics following exposure to simulated space radiation (galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events) that astronauts will encounter during missions to Mars.

The selected proposals are from 14 institutions in 10 states and will receive a total of approximately $4.3 million during a one- to two-year period. NASA selected the projects from 129 proposals received in response to the 2019 Human Exploration Research Opportunities Appendices A and B. Science and technology experts from academia, government, and industry reviewed the proposals.

The complete list of the selected proposals, principal investigators and organizations is:

  • Ana Diaz Artiles, Texas A&M University: “Effects of Altered-Gravity on Perception and Bi-manual Coordination: Impacts on Functional Performance”
  • Ana Diaz Artiles, Texas A&M University: “Predicting acute cardiovascular and ocular changes due to changes in the gravitational vector and effects of countermeasures”
  • Marjan Boerma, University of Arkansas, Little Rock: “Assessment of galactic cosmic ray dose rate effects on endothelial function”  
  • Daniel Buckland, Duke University: “Automated Vascular Access for Spaceflight”
  • Gilles Clement, NASA Johnson Space Center: “Functional Task Tests in Partial Gravity during Parabolic Flight”
  • Sylvain Costes, NASA Ames Research Center: “Mapping peripheral immune signatures of mouse and human responses to space radiation for biomarker identification”
  • Walter Cromer, Texas A&M University: “The Effect of Simulated Space Radiation on the Interaction of the Metabolome, Immune System and Lymphatic Anatomy of the Gastrointestinal Tract”
  • Brian Crucian, NASA Johnson Space Center: “Immunogenicity/Allergenicity of Lunar Dust”
  • Duane Hassane, Weill Medical College of Cornell University: “The impact of human spaceflight on clonal hematopoiesis”
  • Jessica Koehne, NASA Ames Research Center: “Printed Electrochemical Sensor Strip for Quantifying Bone Density Loss in Microgravity”
  • Karina Marshall-Goebel, NASA Johnson Space Center: “Characterization of Jugular Venous Blood Flow during Acute Fluid Shifts”
  • Anne McLaughlin, North Carolina State University: “Cognitive Aid Design Using Augmented Reality to Support Attention”
  • Wayne Nicholson, University of Florida: “Bacillus spore probiotics: evaluation of survival and efficacy after exposure to deep-space radiation simulating long-duration human exploration missions”
  • Donna Roberts, Medical University of South Carolina: “Gender Difference and the Reversibility of the Structural Brain Changes of Spaceflight Correlated with Cognitive/Behavioral Performance”
  • Mark Shelhamer, Johns Hopkins University: “Investigation of Partial-g Effects on Ocular Alignment”
  • Joel Stitzel, Wake Forest University: “Investigation of Occupant Injury Risk in the Soyuz Vehicle and Comparison to Commercial Crew Designs”
  • Gary Strangman, Massachusetts General Hospital: “Operational Performance Effects and Neurophysiology in Partial Gravity (OPEN-PG)”
  • Candice Tahimic, NASA Ames Research Center: “Cardiovascular responses to simulated spaceflight: molecular signatures and surrogate outputs to measure CVD risk”
  • Alireza Tavakkoli, University of Nevada, Reno: “A Non-intrusive Ocular Monitoring Framework to Model Ocular Structure and Functional Changes due to Long-term Spaceflight”
  • Francisco Valero-Cuevas, Neuromuscular Dynamics, LLC: “A simple and compact countermeasure for maintenance and enhancement of neuromuscular control during spaceflight”
  • Scott Wood, NASA Johnson Space Center: “Non-pharmaceutical motion sickness mitigation”

The selected projects are funded through NASA’s Human Research Program to address the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health, and its research may provide knowledge, technologies, and countermeasures that could improve human health and performance during space exploration. The organization’s goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully and to preserve their long-term health.