NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) will fund 24 proposals to help investigate questions about astronaut health and performance on future deep space exploration missions. The selected proposals will investigate the impact of the space environment on various aspects of astronaut health, including visual impairment, behavioral health, bone loss, cardiovascular alterations, human factors and performance, neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors, sensorimotor adaptation, and the development and application of smart medical systems and technologies. All of the selected projects will contribute to knowledge needed for NASA’s journey to Mars.

The selected studies represent how HRP and NSBRI work together to address the practical problems of spaceflight that impact astronaut health. HRP and NSBRI research provides knowledge and technologies that may improve human health and performance during space exploration. They also develop potential countermeasures for problems experienced during space travel. The organizations’ goals are to help astronauts complete their challenging missions successfully and preserve their long-term health. This applied research will be conducted in laboratory settings as well as ground-analog settings that mimic the spaceflight environment.

Selected studies include one by Dr. Gary Strangman, associate professor at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, who will design, develop, and test a non-invasive system to measure electrical activity of the brain for sleep research in a realistic spaceflight analog environment.

Dr. Valerie Meyers, a toxicologist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will examine the effects of carbon dioxide on cognitive performance in high-level decision-making in astronaut-like populations.

Dr. Benjamin Levine, professor in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, will assess the risk of an irregular heartbeat in crew members participating in long-duration spaceflight missions.

The selected proposals are from 21 institutions in 11 states and will receive a total of about $12.9 million during a one- to three-year period. The 24 projects were selected from 178 proposals received in response to the research announcement entitled, “Research and Technology Development to Support Crew Health and Performance in Space Exploration Missions.” Science and technology experts from academia and government reviewed the proposals. NASA will manage 17 of the projects, and NSBRI will manage seven. Six of the investigators are new to HRP and NSBRI. 

HRP quantifies crew health and performance risks during spaceflight and develops strategies that mission planners and system developers can use to monitor and mitigate the risks. These studies often lead to advancements in understanding and treating illnesses in patients on Earth. 

NSBRI is a NASA-funded consortium of institutions studying health risks related to long-duration spaceflight. The Institute’s science, technology and career development projects take place at approximately 60 institutions across the United States.

Below is the complete list of the selected proposals, principal investigators and organizations:

NASA Awards

Dr. Dorrit Billman, San Jose State University Research Foundation, “Training for Generalizable Skills & Knowledge: Integrating Principles and Procedures”

Dr. Kim Binsted, University of Hawaii, “Using Analog Missions to Develop Effective Team Composition Strategies for Long Duration Space Exploration”

Dr. Mary Bouxsein, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “Vertebral Strength and Fracture Risk Following Long Duration Spaceflight”

Toni Clark, Lockheed Martin, “Computational Modeling to Limit the Impact Displays and Indicator Lights Have on Habitable Volume Operational Lighting Constraints”

Dr. Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University, “CREWS: Crew Recommender for Effective Work in Space”

Prof. Leslie DeChurch, Georgia Institute of Technology, “SCALE: Shared Cognitive Architectures for Long-term Exploration”

Dr. Douglas Ebert, Wyle Laboratories, “Evaluation of an Impedance Threshold Device as a Vision Impairment and Intracranial Pressure (VIIP) Countermeasure”

Dr. Edward Foegeding, North Carolina State University, “High-Protein and Polyphenol Bar Formulations: Utilizing Whey Protein-Polyphenol Ingredients”

Dr. Adam Gonzalez, State University of New York, Stony Brook, “Asynchronous Techniques for the Delivery of Empirically Supported Psychotherapies”

Dr. Kritina Holden, Lockheed Martin, “Electronic Procedures for Crewed Missions Beyond Low-Earth Orbit (LEO)”

Dr. Benjamin Levine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, “Integrated Cardiovascular (ICV) 2.0: Assessing the Risk for Atrial Fibrillation in Astronauts During Long Duration Spaceflight”

Dr. Steven Lockley, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, “Lighting Protocols for Exploration – Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) Campaign”

Dr. Valerie Meyers, NASA’s Johnson Space Center, “Effects of Acute Exposures to Carbon Dioxide upon Cognitive Functions”

Dr. Greg Perlman, State University of New York, Stony Brook, “Personality and Biological Predictors of Resiliency to Chronic Stress among High-Achieving Adults”

Dr. Raphael Rose, University of California, Los Angeles, “Asynchronous Behavioral Health Treatment Techniques”

Dr. Jeffrey Ryder, Universities Space Research Association, “Sweat Rates During Continuous and Interval Aerobic Exercise: Implications for NASA Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Missions”

Dr. Richard Simpson, University of Houston, “The Impact of Modeled Microgravity and Prior Radiation Exposure on Cytomegalovirus Reactivation and Host Immune Evasion”

NSBRI Awards

Dr. Gary Strangman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, “Sleep Electroencephalography and Near-Infrared Spectroscopy Measurements for Spaceflight and Analogs”

Dr. Gary Strangman, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, “Testing Mechanical Countermeasures for Cephalad Fluid Shifts”

Dr. Henry Donahue, Pennsylvania State University, “Somatic Mutations in Muscle and Bone Exposed to Simulated Space Radiation and Microgravity”

Dr. Robert Hienz, Johns Hopkins University, “Countermeasures for Neurobehavioral Vulnerabilities to Space Radiation”

Dr. Jonathan Lindner, Oregon Health & Science University, “Biomarker Assessment for Identifying Heightened Risk for Cardiovascular Complications During Long-duration Space Missions”

Dr. Brandon Macias, University Of California, San Diego, “Validation of a Cephalad Fluid Shift Countermeasure”

Ms. Debra Schreckenghost, TRACLabs, “Quantifying and Developing Countermeasures for the Effect of Fatigue-Related Stressors on Automation Use and Trust during Robotic Supervisory Control”