A member of the SAoO Board of Trustees in the service of space science
Dr Michael Bärtschi, a member of the SAoO Board of Trustees, is participating in research into microcirculation under weightless conditions, similar to what happens onboard the International Space Station ISS or for the planned space flights to the moon and Mars. His collaboration has been established at the request of the research team of the Department of Cardiology at the University of Düsseldorf, headed by Prof. Dr Christian Jung, and on behalf of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
Among other things, retinal microcirculation is assessed in relation to intraocular pressure under hyper-g (hypergravity) and Zero-G(weightlessness) conditions, and a long list of other vital physical and physiological blood parameters are taken and analysed.
In order to obtain clinically accurate intraocular pressure readings under the special weightless conditions, Dr Bärtschi had to design a helmet that met the very high safety standards of space travel to accommodate the rebound tonometer, as well as outsmarting the tonometer’s activation mechanisms for weightlessness. This was successfully achieved with the help of Swiss metal fabrication shops and technical assistance from iCare Finland and was technically tested and accepted by NoveSpace in 2021.
The first Zero-Gparabolic flight campaign to test the technology and safety ("proof of concept") was successfully conducted over the Atlantic Ocean in June 2021. Here are images of our 36th science campaign with the experiment set up onboard the Airbus 310 converted to these "zero-gravity" purposes during the hyper-g and Zero-G phases.
The second Zero-G parabolic flight campaign aiming at the vital in-vivo evaluation of all blood and circulation specific data is scheduled for February 2022, again over the Atlantic Ocean off the French coast.