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Space sickness on Earth


Nooij,  SAE
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Nooij, S., Bos JE, Groen EL, Bles, W., & Ockels, W. (2007). Space sickness on Earth. Microgravity Science and Technology, 19(5-6), 113-117. doi:10.1007/BF02919464.

During the first days in space, i.e., after a transition from 1G to 0G, more than 50 of the astro- (and cosmonauts) suffer from the Space Adaptation Syndrome (SAS).The symptoms of SAS, like nausea and dizziness, are especially provoked by head movements. Astronauts have mentioned close similarities between the symptoms of SAS and the symptoms they experienced after a 1 hour centrifuge run on Earth, i.e., after a transition from 3G to 1G (denoted by Sickness Induced by Centrifugation, SIC). During several space missions, we related susceptibility to SAS and to SIC in 11 astronauts and found 4 of them being susceptible to both SIC and SAS, and 7 being not susceptible to SIC nor to SAS. This correspondence in susceptibility suggests that SIC and SAS share the same underlying mechanism. To further study this mechanism, several vestibular parameters have been investigated (e.g. postural stability, vestibularly driven eye movements, subjective vertical). We found some striking changes in individual cases that are possibly due to the centrifuge run. However, the variability between subjects generally is very large, making physiological links to SIC and SAS still hard to find.