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Sleeping in Space

by Ray Oyung

April 21, 1998

Lots of things have been going on over the last couple of months. Neurolab is a mission on the Space Shuttle Columbia which launched Friday April 17, 1998. The mission will last 10 days and more information on the entire mission can be read at the following site called NeurOn: http://quest.arc.nasa.gov/neuron/

Our piece of the mission is an experiment to determine how well humans sleep and breath in space. Also, we are testing the efficacy (effectiveness) of synthetic melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that's naturally secreted from the brain at night. It is thought to be one of the reasons why we sleep at night and why it's harder to sleep during the day.

Some of the data the astronauts on this mission will be collecting are: brain wave activity (also called EEG); eye activity (EOG); muscle activity (EMG); heart activity (ECG); respiration; nasal airflow (through a device called a thermistor taped under the nose); snoring (through a microphone taped to the neck); blood oxygen saturation (SaO2); and core body temperature.

During the mission, quite a bit of data will be down linked from the shuttle to the scientists on the ground in the Scientific Monitoring Area (SMA) at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. This same experiment will be conducted by a couple astronauts on STS 95 which will launch in late October this year. I'll show you more pictures and give you more information on a very well know and distinguished individual in our history of the exporation of Space a little later. Until then, keep up the good work at school.

Some of the Sleep Team researchers who work behind the scenes during shuttle operations.
Some of the crewmembers on STS 95 seeing the sleep experiment devices for the first time.
A picture of the sleep net used to collect EEG, EOG, and EMG. The nasal airflow is measured through a device called a thermistor. A microphone attached to the neck will measure breathing sounds.
The crewmembers have been dubbed the cranial crusaders as noted by each of their 'temporary' tattoos.
The side view of the sleep net used to measure sleep physiology.


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