Long-term effects of microgravity and possible countermeasures

Adv Space Res. 1992;12(1):281-4. doi: 10.1016/0273-1177(92)90296-a.


It is well known that long-term exposure to microgravity causes a number of physiological and biochemical changes in humans; among the most significant are: 1) negative calcium balance resulting in the loss of bone; 2) atrophy of antigravity muscles; 3) fluid shifts and decreased plasma volume; and 4) cardiovascular deconditioning that leads to orthostatic intolerance. It is estimated that a mission to Mars may require up to 300 days in a microgravity environment; in the case of an aborted mission, the astronauts may have to remain in reduced gravity for up to three years. Although the Soviet Union has shown that exercise countermeasures appear to be adequate for exposures of up to one year in space, it is questionable whether astronauts could or should have to maintain such regimes for extremely prolonged missions. Therefore, the NASA Life Sciences Division has initiated a program designed to evaluate a number of methods for providing an artificial gravity environment.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Centrifugation / methods*
  • Equipment Design
  • Gravity, Altered
  • Humans
  • Space Flight / instrumentation*
  • USSR
  • United States
  • United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Weightlessness / adverse effects*
  • Weightlessness Countermeasures*