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In an environment where plants refuse to flower, flame burns in a sphere instead of a cone, and mice are too befuddled to reproduce, man is bound to find life uncomfortable.
In zero-gravity, in fact, astronauts suffer from severe nausea and dizziness, lose significant amounts of calcium in their bones, and excrete high levels of potassium.
The space shuttle, however, will serve as a laboratory to help astronauts adapt to weightlessness after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) begins routine flights in 1983.
Martin C. Moore-ede, assistant professor of Physiology at the Medical School, heads a project investigating why astronauts lose considerable potassium in space--a condition that strains the heart.
Launching a group of rhesus monkeys with the shuttle's Spacelab in 1984, Moore-ede believes he will confirm his finding that a shift of blood in the monkeys from the lower extremities to the torso because of changes in gravity accelerates their loss of fluids and purges high levels of potassium.
Although astronauts drink potassiumrien Tang to counteract their loss of the mineral in space. Morre-ede says the mineral supplements are often insufficient and a mere stop-gap to a problem experiments may solve.
The zero-gravity, potassium loss experiment joins projects researching the causes for spacesickness and calcium loss in the bone as primary projects in NASA's attempts to make space more friendly to man. Morre-ede said yesterday.
On many future flights the shuttle's payload will carry a small laboratory called Spacelab to house Morre-ede's experiments as well as others in biology, physics, and astrophysics.
Now under construction in Europe and scheduled to for its first voyage in 1983, the Spacelab will observe the extremely high-energy wavelength and particle radiations in space and investigate whether the energy of the sun is subject to short or long-term variations.
The Spacelab will also carry a ten-ton telescope that will allow scientists to view space 100 times more accurately than any earth telescope, and look for infrared and ultraviolet ends of the visible spectrum obscured by the atmosphere 3 earth.
Citing the $603.5 million budget cuts of NASA by the Reagan administration and the planned 23 per cent reduction in the funds of the agency's science projects, Moore-ede said. "There is not enough general awareness of the research potential provided by Spacelab and the benefits from this research."
"As in any laboratory or experiment," Moore-ede added. Spacelab will probably bring significant and unforseen scientific discoveries outside of the aims and focus of the experiments.
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