While lying in head down tilt position, the head at -6º below the feet, the body is experiencing physical changes (e.g. headward fluid shift, relative inactivity, reduced loading of the bone and muscles… ) that can, to a certain extent, mimic the consequences of weightlessness on the human physiology. This condition is known as head down bed rest (HDBR) and is used as a cost effective alternative for real microgravity.
HDBR or bed rest studies allow using devices or techniques that are unavailable in the ISS and performing experiments on a larger number of subjects. Information on past HDBR studies can be found in the Erasmus Experiment Archive (type in "bedrest"). Upcoming bed-rest studies will focus on fundamental research in physiology and on the evaluation of the use of artificial gravity as a countermeasure against muscle loss and cardiovascular deconditioning. Artificial gravity will be created with the Short Arm Human Centrifuge (SAHC) which will be installed in MEDES and DLR centre. In addition a call for new countermeasures ideas/concepts was issued in the context of continuously open research announcement for bed-rest.
Contact: Patrik.Sundblad @ esa.int