NASA to Pay Volunteers to Lie in Bed

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. in exchange for / ɪn ɪksˈtʃeɪnʤ foɚ / (phrasal) – to give something in return

    Tom gave me an apple in exchange for my pie.

  2. tilt / tɪlt / (v) – to make one side higher than the other

    She tilted the glass while pouring the drink.

  3. revolve / rɪˈvɑːlv / (v) – to move in a circular motion

    The music box’s figurine revolves slowly.

  4. extremity / ɪkˈstrɛməti / (n) – a foot or a hand

    She has to use a wheelchair while her lower extremities are still weak.

  5. kick off / kɪk ɑːf / (phrasal) – to start

    The experiment will kick off next week.


Read the text below.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is going to pay volunteers a huge sum of money in exchange for lying in bed.

A total of 12 male and 12 female volunteers will each receive $18,500 for being part of a study by NASA, the European Space Agency, and the German Aerospace Center. As subjects of the study, the participants will spend 60 days in bed at a research facility in Germany. Outside the 60-day bed rest phase, volunteers will also have 14 days of break from lying down.

Called Artificial Gravity Bed Rest—European Space Agency (AGBRESA), the study aims to analyze the effects of artificial gravity on the human body, specifically that of astronauts. To recreate a low-gravity environment, the participants will lie down on a bed whose head part is tilted downward. Because this kind of environment may alter blood flow, some participants will be put in a machine that revolves 30 times per minute to make blood flow back to their extremities.

Additionally, routine activities, including eating and taking a shower, will be done in a lying position. Movements will also be limited to avoid putting stress on the muscles and bones.

Throughout the study, the participants will also undergo several tests to check their brain, heart, muscles, as well as balance.

The study will be conducted in two phases. The first phase has already kicked off in March, while the second phase will start in September.

The researchers are still accepting applications for the second phase. Non-smoking women who are 24 to 55 years old and can speak German are encouraged to apply.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Would you be willing to volunteer in the AGBRESA study in exchange for money? Why or why not?
• Other than money, what other benefits do you think participants can get from the study? Discuss.

Discussion B

• What safety precautions should a person take note of before volunteering in this kind of study? Explain.
• Aside from a bed rest study, what other studies do you find interesting (e.g. sleep study)? Discuss.