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Group picture of the participants of the Online Human Space Physiology Training Course 2020
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Participate in ESA Academy’s Online Human Space Physiology Training Course 2021

18/06/2021 8730 views 36 likes
ESA / Education / ESA Academy

What is it really like to live in space? What happens to the body in microgravity? Thanks to a training course offered by ESA’s Education and Space Medicine Teams, medical and life sciences university students can find out.

ESA’s Education Office and the Space Medicine Team invite BSc and MSc university students studying medicine, allied healthcare subjects, life, biomedical or biological sciences to apply to the Online Human Space Physiology Training Course 2021. The course will be held between 18 and 29 October 2021. Online sessions will be taking place during the day according to Central European Summer Time (CEST). Participants will be requested to attend all sessions live.

Tutor session to discuss the progress of the group project
Tutor session to discuss the progress of the group project

During the first week of the training course, students will discover how spaceflight represents a significant physiological challenge to the human body. Having evolved in Earth’s gravity, our bodies adapt when in microgravity. Some of these adaptations may comprise astronaut health and wellbeing, either in flight or upon return to Earth. As a result, these adaptations must be understood in order to inform development of effective strategies to support humans during space missions to the International Space Station and beyond.  

In addition to learning about life in space and the physiological adaptations associated with it, students will discover how a range of Earth-based analogues, such as long-term (head down) bed rest and over-wintering in Antarctica, are used to investigate some of the potential underlying mechanisms. Finally, current and some potential future approaches to mitigate the effects of the space environment on the human body will be discussed.

During the second week of the training course, students will work on a remote group project, addressing some of the major issues and challenges human spaceflight is facing. Work will be distributed flexibly during this part of the training course to allow the student groups to tackle their tasks independently. However, students will be expected to be available online from Monday to Thursday in the afternoon for group discussions supported by virtual tutoring sessions with an expert. On the final day of the training course, each group will present their findings to the other participants.

Expert lecture about life support on the International Space Station
Expert lecture about life support on the International Space Station

Students participating in this training course can expect to be introduced to the following topics: 

  • What it’s really like to live in space
  • The challenges, lessons, and successes that have led to permanent occupation of the International Space Station 
  • The conditions that the ISS provides to protect and support life
  • How the senses perceive being ‘weightless’ 
  • How key physiological systems respond to microgravity, what mechanisms underlie these changes, and some approaches that may be used to mitigate such effects
  • How human space physiology research is performed both in space, and using Earth-based analogues
  • How astronauts’ physical and mental well-being is supported through ESA’s Space Medicine Team
  • Major issues and challenges current human spaceflight and future space exploration must overcome

Preliminary Schedule

Day 1 Venturing into Space
Introduction
A History of Human Spaceflight
The Realities of the Space Environment
Life Support on the ISS
Introduction to Group Project
Day 2 Human 'Spaceflight' Science
A Sense of Space
How Do Animal and Cellular Studies Help Our Understanding of Human Space Physiology
The Vestibular System and Microgravity Induced Neuroplasticity
Fundamentals of Muscle and Neuromuscular Function in Space
Day 3 Key Space Environment Adaptation
ESA Human Research Activities - ISS and Ground Analogues
Fundamentals of Bone Physiology in Space
Effects of Microgravity on the Cardiovascular System
Immunology in Space
Day 4 Space Medicine Support on the ISS and Beyond?
Medical Support of ISS Astronauts
Psychological Support for Spaceflight
The Global Exploration Roadmap – The Future of Human Space Exploration
Nutritional Support for Astronauts
Day 5 Astronaut Support on the ISS and Space Radiation
Physical Exercise and Reconditioning in Spaceflight Space Medicine Projects at the EAC
EVA Training
Days 6 to 9 Group Project (afternoons)
Day 10 Group Project Presentations & Training Course Conclusion

Upon completion of the training course, students will be evaluated on their group project and will receive a certificate of participation as well as a course transcript, allowing them to request ECTS credit(s) from their respective universities.

Further information

University student group presenting the outcome of their project
University student group presenting the outcome of their project

Who can apply?
Students enrolled in university who fulfil the following criteria:

  • aged minimum 18 years old.  ESA Academy and relevant partners will only appraise applications from students who have no or limited professional experience in relevant scientific or other space-related topics;
  • be a citizen of an ESA Member States, Canada, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia;
  • be enrolled as a BSc or MSc student (or equivalent) in a university for the year 2021-2022 (not graduating before the end of the training course);
  • be studying medicine, allied healthcare subjects, life, biomedical or biological sciences.

Selected students will be requested to attend all 10 days live and participate actively in the group project.

How do I apply?

  • Fill in the application form;
  • Upload a motivation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, no images);
  • Upload a CV (Europass format, PDF, no images, maximum 2 pages);
  • Upload a formal recommendation letter (PDF, maximum 1 page, including signature, no images) from a university professor or an academic supervisor from your current university (if not possible due to current confinement situation in your country please ask a university professor or an academic supervisor to send a recommendation email to tlp@esa.int);
  • Upload a copy of academic records (PDF);
  • Upload a short abstract (maximum 500 words) based on the title "Being in space can induce physiological de-conditioning". Briefly define the major changes observed in a single physiological system (of your choice) and discuss whether this presents any issues for a mission to the Moon (PDF, no images).

All correspondence and documents should be in English (except academic records if not available). 

The deadline for applications has been extended to 24 August 2021 at 23:59pm CEST.

For more information, please contact: tlp@esa.int