Weightlessness encountered during long-duration spaceflight can cause astronauts’ physical fitness levels to dramatically decrease. Yet, a certain level of fitness needs to be maintained in order to complete physically demanding jobs (while also wearing large spacesuits) on planetary surfaces, such as the Earth’s moon and Mars. In this study, the investigators took the first steps to determine what exercise tests and what types and levels of fitness may be required to perform physically demanding jobs.
Forty-five male and female subjects completed mission-critical tasks like setting up communication towers and moving supplies. The tasks were completed under conditions simulating what astronauts would experience on the moon and Mars. Results showed that a higher level of fitness must be maintained by astronauts working under Mars gravity compared to moon gravity. In addition, information gained from multiple tests will be needed to determine if astronauts are “fit” enough to do certain jobs when they land at these destinations. This work will help prepare astronauts for demanding exploration tasks on planetary surfaces and guide development of equipment needed to sustain their fitness during future long-duration exploration missions. View the abstract.