The European Space Agency (ESA) is conducting a study in which participants will be suspended in the bath for five days to see how human bodies react to living in space without leaving their bed. According to ESA's official site, the experiment will be needing 20 women to sit in a dry-immersion bath for five days to test the effects of weightlessness on the human body. Dry-immersion means that the participants will be lying in the bath on a waterproof sheet so that they don't actually get wet.
ESA further explained the concept on their official website and said, “Dry-immersion studies benefit from placing less pressure on the body as volunteers are supported and suspended evenly in the tub, a condition that mimics the floating astronauts experience on the International Space Station”.
The study is due to take place sometime later this year at the Institute for Space Medicine and Physiology (MEDES) in Toulouse, France. ESA's human spaceflight team leader, Jennifer Ngo-Anh also said that the experiment is 'no joke'. She further explained that lying in bed sounds fun but the pleasure wears off eventually as the blood is drawn and muscle biopsies are also involved.
The ESA decided to start the 'first dry-immersion' protocol with all-women volunteers as there is no data on females. Jennifer also said that the researchers will not be doing any specific experiments for the first round. However, she further added that the researchers will collect data to better understand the dry immersion model and how the women react to assess the study for more extensive investigations in the future.
The space agency has not yet mentioned how much participants will be paid for the experiment, or when it will start recruiting. Although, they have mentioned that the research does not only benefit astronauts but also has implications for people on Earth who are bedridden for long periods of time.
This is not the first bizarre experiment, as last year NASA reportedly paid participants £14,000 to spend 89 days in bed as part of its Artificial Gravity Bed Rest Study. According to reports, the study investigated the use of artificial gravity as a possible means of preventing the negative effects of weightlessness on the human body. NASA even explained that the results of the study helped scientists develop more effective countermeasures or preventive measures so that the astronauts on the space station do not have to spend most of their day doing sports.