A study released November 13th, 2019 by NASA researchers has revealed that of 11 International Space Station crew members who participated in the study, “6 crew members demonstrated stagnant or retrograde flow in the internal jugular vein on approximate flight day 50, and 1 crew member developed an occlusive internal jugular vein thrombus during spaceflight”.
We are exploring options for combating this unfortunate side effect of microgravity.
One possible solution which has existed conceptually for many decades is the design, construction, and implementation of a space station which has artificial gravity induced by the centripetal force of rotation.
One of the biggest difficulties with this concept is the practicality of constructing a spacecraft/space station large enough to be able to create a centripetal force close enough to Earth’s gravity to be useful.
A natural question resulting from this difficulty is this: what is the lowest amount of gravity necessary to reasonably reduce the health risks associated with microgravity?
Would 0.5 g suffice? How about 0.25 g? Once a figure is reasonably determined and substantiated, a space craft capable of providing an equal amount of artificial gravity can be designed and proposed, and thus the design and construction difficulties will be lowered.
Another potential solution to the thrombosis and blood pooling problem is the creation of a mobile lower body negative pressure suit. A patent for such a device is held by one of the authors of the aforementioned study, Dr. Hargens, as mentioned in the ‘Conflict of Interests’ section of the paper.
Other possibilities for reducing or even eliminating this health risk undoubtedly exist, and we plan to investigate the pros and cons of potential solutions to determine the most practical.