As they explore space, astronauts experience a significant increase in body temperature, a new study reveals.
Space travel makes a lot of us fantasize. But the reality is probably less fun for astronauts. Indeed, weightlessness defies all the laws of gravity, so that astronauts must completely change the most common lifestyle habits such as eating, sleeping or even moving. And according to a recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports, the temperature of their bodies would also be modified as well.
The research was carried out by a team of scientists from the Charité Clinic attached to the Universitätsmedizin Berlin. The authors of the study have developed a device to accurately measure the body temperature of astronauts when they travel in space. The researchers followed the astronauts' journey at the International Space Station (ISS). "We have developed a new technology that combines a skin surface temperature sensor with a heat flux sensor, capable of measuring even minor variations in the arterial blood temperature, "says Dr. Hanns-Christian Gunga, deputy director of the Institute of Physiology of Berlin and lead author of the study.
"Fever of space"
Scientists took astronauts' temperature before, during and after their stay at the International Space Station. The researchers found that the body temperature of space explorers increased by about 1 ° C due to weightlessness, 1 degree more than normal body temperature (37 ° C). This can go up to 40 ° C (or more) when astronauts are physically strenuous, says Dr. Gunga. The increase occurs approximately after 2 and a half months of travel, says the doctor.
This "space fever" is explained by the fact that the evacuation of perspiration (which regulates the body temperature) of a human body subjected to weightlessness is slower than on Earth . This phenomenon also explains why the thermometer climbs more after physical exercises, deduce the authors of the study. "When it is subjected to the laws of weightlessness, it is extremely difficult for our body to eliminate excess heat: the heat transfer between the body and its environment becomes much more difficult under these conditions," says Dr. Gunga.
However, hyperthermia (increased body temperature) can have significant consequences on physical and cognitive performance, and can sometimes even be life threatening, warn scientists. "We hope that these new discoveries will have a positive impact on the health and well-being of astronauts in future long-duration space missions," Dr. Gunga said in light of the results. The lead author of the study also believes that these findings raise questions about the evolution of our optimal body temperature: "Our results provide insights that can help determine how our body temperature will continue to adapt to changes on Earth, "adds the doctor.