For the first time, researchers are sending a mobile spiroergometry device to space. During his upcoming mission to the International Space Station, German astronaut Alexander Gerst will use the METAMAX 3B, an ultralight mobile device to measure pulmonary function and ECG.
During Alexander Gerst’s 6-month ‘Horizons’ mission, his main responsibilities include maintaining morale of the crew, ensuring safety standards are met, and following instructions from the flight dictator on the ground. However, astronauts are ultimately scientists, and the goal of using spiroergometry on the Horizons mission is to better understand the physiological impact of space. This will help future astronauts and space tourists prepare for the challenge of living with zero gravity.
These experiments are mostly conducted in the Columbus module, where, since its launch and docking with the ISS in 2007, more than 225 experiments have been done. There, research in scientific fields as diverse as astrobiology, metallurgy, psychology, and solar science feeds more than 500 gigabytes of data every month back to Earth.
Tests using the METAMAX 3B are part of a series of over 50 experiments, each only possible in a permanent weightless laboratory. Alexander Gerst’s research aboard the ISS includes the physiological and psychological effects of living far from Earth, how the brain reacts when there is no up or down, and the decline in bone density during extended spaceflight.
Being the lightest mobile spiroergometry device on the market, research applications for the METAMAX 3B are broad. Whether used to test physical limits, preventative medicine, or physiology in space, this technology proves to be a great tool to study the impact of stressors on the human body.