CU Boulder finds possible solution to motion sickness in space | Space

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About 70% of astronauts will suffer from motion sickness during the first few days of orbital flight, experiencing dizziness, cold sweating, nausea and vomiting, according to a journal article in the National Institutes of Health.

To solve this problem, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder used virtual reality headsets and spinning machines that simulate space flight.

Torin Clark, a CU Boulder professor in aerospace engineering, said people get motion sick when the brain receives unexpected sensory information about how they’re moving.

“Let’s say you’re riding in the back of the car. You might get a bunch of passive motion your brain isn’t expecting that can lead to motion sickness,” Clark said. “For astronauts, this happens because they’re going through a gravity transition, whether it’s going into space or coming back from space.”

CU Boulder Professor Torin Clark sits in one of the machines used to simulate space motion sickness (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Astronaut’s brains are programmed to expect one Earth gravity, which they’ve experienced their whole life. In space that changes, causing motion sickness. Eventually, the astronauts adapt to it, but when they come back they get motion sickness again because of the change.

“There’s sort of this incongruency between what the brain’s expecting and what sensory information they’re actually getting, so that leads to motion sickness both going into space and coming back from space,” Clark said.

The researchers’ goal was to provide sensory information to reduce that difference. They created machines that spin a person around in a way that simulates the experiences astronauts have when they go to space and experience gravity changes, specifically focusing on what happens during water landings.

“We are essentially trying to replicate the gravity transition and the wave-like motion,” Graduate Research Assistant Taylor Lonner said.

While in the…

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