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Microgravity: living on the International Space Station
Microgravity: living on the International Space Station

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Week 2 Ageing and microgravity environments

Introduction

Week 1 introduced microgravity in the context of the ISS, physics and orbits. This week, you will look at how microgravity environments can lead to research into the ageing process.

There are many challenges as a result of the ageing population in western countries. First, there are the medical implications. Then, there are the economic challenges of health care. What about pensions? Finally, there is quality of life. So, what research is now being done that will benefit everyone in their later years?

It turns out that the ageing process can be researched in a microgravity environment. Here the context of ‘bed rest’ is used. But how can resting in a bed simulate ageing? And does space travel make astronauts age?

This week, you will discover how microgravity environments are used to model the ageing process. You will learn how current research is helping both elderly people here on Earth and astronauts. You will also consider how exercise can reduce the effects of ageing. You will then have the opportunity to do another practical experiment. This time, you will measure your heart rate and respiration as you carry out a range of activities.

By the end of this week, you should be able to:

  • explain the types of scientific research that can benefit from microgravity environments, focusing on ageing
  • carry out a home practical experiment to measure your heart rate and respiration
  • calculate speed using distance and time data
  • interpret data from a pie chart and a logarithmic–linear graph.