EEG earbud is made to monitor astronauts' sleep patterns on the ISS
Sleeping while wired up with a full EEG cap would be hard enough here on Earth, but can you imagine trying to do so in the zero-gravity environment of outer space? It could be quite awkward, which is why an earbud has been designed to serve the same purpose.
Named the ear-EEG (ear-ElectroEncephaloGraphy), the hard-wired device was created by a team of scientists at Denmark's Aarhus University. Plans call for it to be used on the International Space Station (ISS) by Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen, as part of the Sleep in Orbit research project.
According to the university, poor sleep is the most common complaint reported by people staying aboard the ISS. Their sleep is typically compromised not only by the weightless environment, but also by the fact that day and night are dictated artificially, not by the rising and setting of the sun.
Needless to say, if an astronaut were to be rendered lethargic and generally a bit dopey by lack of sleep, the results could potentially be catastrophic.
Sleep in Orbit is intended to gain a better understanding of the problem – and hopefully develop solutions – by analyzing the differences in Mogensen's sleep patterns on Earth and on the ISS. The ear-EEG will play a key role in the project, as it monitors electrical activity in the brain by measuring minuscule voltage changes on the surface of the skin within the ear canal.
"These days, we know a bit about how astronauts experience sleep in space, but we don’t know much about how space affects their sleep physiologically," said the lead scientist, Prof. Preben Kidmose. "That’s one of the things that we’re going to measure as part of this project."
Source: Aarhus University