Astronaut Scott Kelly Undergoes Functional Testing Upon Return From ISS
American Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov landed late Tuesday night in the Kazakhstan desert after a trip home from the International Space Station (ISS). Kelly spent nearly a year in the ISS, the longest any American Astronaut has been in space.
Immediately upon landing, Kelly is subjected to numerous functional tests to see how his body reacted to the 340 days spent in space – including tests performed with Opal wearable sensors. This mission took an international approach to biomedical testing, involving joint investigations between multiple countries. Tests are broken up into different groupings, including the functional group, which looks at the performance of the astronauts. Others include ocular health, behavioral health, metabolic health, physical performance, microbial health, and human-to-environment relations. All of these tests are performed in an attempt to better understand the effects of space travel on the human body, and to better design spacecraft for long-duration flight.
Kelly has experienced numerous physiological alterations due to his exposure to microgravity conditions in space flight. These changes include sensorimotor changes, loss of muscle tone, and reduced cardiovascular fitness, which can inhibit his ability to ambulate or perform functional tasks appropriately.
Kelly is tested as soon as possible after landing – either in the tent at the Soyuz landing site or at the Karaganda/Kustanai airport in Kazakhstan. He is then tested two more times to log multiple data points throughout landing day. Part of this testing involves APDM Opal Sensors. Like previous missions, astronauts are tested before embarking on a mission. When the astronauts return, the Opal system is flown in with the landing party. Opals are used for multiple tests such as gait tests like Tandem Walk, balance tests like Postural Sway, and functional tests like Sit to Stand. NASA chose Opals because of their long battery life and the ability to log data. They allow for the flexibility of a variable landing time and a remote landing site. Data can be captured in Logging mode and then imported into the computer back at the NASA lab.
These images show some of the testing Kelly will go through.
Testing is not only important to the future of space flight, but also to earth-based situations, such as prolonged bedrest and injury recovery. Adaptable recording is just one of the many benefits that Opals provide to fit a wide variety of applications and scenarios.