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HomeminewsEyecare Experiments Planned for Spaceflight

Eyecare Experiments Planned for Spaceflight

Polaris Dawn, the human spaceflight mission expected to launch in the first half of 2023, will undertake eyecare experiments as part of its mission.

The mission is the first of the Polaris Program’s three planned human spaceflights. The crew and SpaceX will conduct an extensive suite of science and research experiments.

The selected projects are designed to advance both human health on Earth and on future long-duration spaceflights, according to a statement from the Polaris Program.

“The mission profile of Polaris Dawn affords us some great opportunities to expand our collective knowledge about the human body in space and associated applicability here on earth,” said Jared Isaacman, mission commander.

The selected projects are designed to advance both human health on Earth and on future long-duration spaceflights

SpaceX is targeting no earlier than March 2023 for launch of the Polaris Dawn mission from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Over the course of five days, the Dragon spacecraft and the Polaris Dawn crew will endeavour to travel to 1,400 km—the highest earth orbit ever flown—and attempt the first-ever commercial spacewalk. Many of the selected research projects take advantage of this unique mission profile, including the relatively high-radiation levels due to the high-altitude orbit and exposure to hard-vacuum during the spacewalk.

The Polaris Dawn crew plans to conduct two eyecare experiments. The first involves the use of ultrasound to measure changes to the eye’s structure in microgravity.

The second involves a crew member wearing a contact lens embedded with microelectronics that will allow the crew to continuously monitor changes in the shape and pressure of the eye, a first for a human spaceflight mission.

Collected data will contribute to the understanding of Spaceflight Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS), a condition that can cause degraded vision during a mission.

While the experiments have been selected for inclusion in the mission profile, additional testing and qualification requirements are underway. A final list of approved-to-fly experiments will be published closer to launch.