Help Wanted: Pillownauts for NASA

They do so for months to mimic lunar gravity
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Jun 18, 2009 4:43 PM CDT
NASA has plenty of takers for its pillownaut program.   (Shutter Stock)

(Newser) – If astronaut school seems too daunting, this might be the next best thing. NASA is offering $160 per day for human testers to lie down at a slight downward angle—a position that simulates the moon's gravitational pull—for months at a stretch. It may sound easy, but bodies aren't built for it. (Catheters are involved.) Being a "pillownaut" can cause muscle atrophy, bone density loss, headaches, and nausea, Wired reports.

NASA uses the studies to understand and treat such symptoms. The last batch of subjects kept themselves busy doing crafts, watching movies, reading books, and talking to one another—until Hurricane Ike forced a premature evacuation. They had to rehabilitate their feet in a few painful hours, rather than days. Even so, "It was absolutely, totally worth it,” says one participant.