Date of Award

2001

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Chemistry

First Advisor

Dr. David Brooks

Second Advisor

Mr. Glenn Good

Third Advisor

Dr. Marty Perry

Abstract

Extended space exploration poses many physiological problems that must be overcome before humanity can reach past the boundaries of Earth's orbit. The farthest a human has been able to travel is to the moon and back, and currently astronauts are confined to orbiting the Earth. While many astronauts and cosmonauts have remained aboard the space station Mir for months, their stay was not without detrimental effects upon their return. Currently, the International Space Station and missions to Mars are the projects involving humans in space at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In this experiment, a ground-based simulation utilizing rat hind limb suspension was conducted to simulate microgravity for three weeks. Different experimental groups were suspended, depending o diet and excision of the ovaries. The overall calcium balance in serum samples after suspension was analyzed for each group.

The purpose of this experiment is simply to reproduce and verify the results that ionic calcium serum levels increase due to the unloading of bone minerals in the rat skeleton. Further analysis in other experiments is needed to confirm urinary and fecal output, vitamin D levels in serum, and the effects of medicinal countermeasures such as alkali or vitamin supplements.

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