Institute of Aerospace Medicine
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Within the German Aerospace Center the Institute of Aerospace Medicine is the only research institution that primarily deals with life science problems concerning space flight, aviation and traffic.
The Institute's research activities are focussed on the central task of providing for the health and performance of the persons involved (pilot, crew, passenger, astronaut, motorist, resident etc.) Furthermore, from a medical point of view the development of countermeasures to protect humans from the effects of weightlessness, like the loss of bone and muscle mass, is one of our main tasks to enable long-term stays of humans in space. At the same time, when conducting research under microgravity conditions, basic functions of the human body are examined by eliminating the interfering influence of gravity in a system-physiological approach. In the field of psychology, the selection of qualified personnel (pilots, astronauts, air traffic controllers) and the development of suitable scientific instruments for the selection procedure are another main task of the Institute. Finally, we also deal with the problem of adaptation of life to extreme environments and take part in projects that are concerned with the search for life in space.
Core tasks and working groups
Medical Operations is an interdisciplinary field covering aviation, space and travel medicine. Work carried out here includes the study of the physical, physiological, psychological, ergonomic and medical characteristics of air and space travel. The department is also responsible for the health and well-being of flight personnel and passengers and regularly carries out medical examinations on those groups.
Biomedical Science Support Center
This division integrates all activities in ME that provide support for ME internal as well as for external scientists in the field of gravity-relevant applications in the biomedical sciences. The profile reaches from scientific and administrational support when planning experiments in microgravity over concrete experiment preparation and operational support for accepted flight experiments and corresponding ground experiments up to data management. This expertise is also applied in projects of related fields like telemedicine and ground systems for satellite communications.
The research activities of the flight physiology division focus on "workload of aviation personnel", "effects of aircraft noise on humans" and within the field of "performance and environment" on basic and special questions about effects of external stressors on humans (e.g. jet-lag, sleep-deprivation, decompression problems in space).
Aviation and Space Psychology
The Institute's Department of Aviation and Space Psychology is located in Hamburg and is largely responsible for personnel selection and certain areas of behavioural training for operation staff (pilots, air traffic controllers and astronauts). In April 2002 the Departments' Quality management system was ISO 9001 certified. As the first Q-System worldwide, this certificate covers all stages of psychological diagnostics.
The Radio Biology Department is concerned with aviation and space relevant questions regarding the effects of radiation on humans and the biosphere. These include, amongst radiation health and protection issues for astronauts and aircraft crews, monitoring the biological consequences of environmental radiation and genotoxic conditions by biological dosimetry and biosensors and bioassays, the assessment of habitability of other planets with special consideration of possible Mars mission scenarios.
The research of space physiology focusses on the influence of weightlessness, nutrition, physical inactivity, unloading, and aging processes on human health. The investigations are performed in an integrative approach - from the cell to the whole organism - on ground and in space.
The working group Transport Safety uses competences and technological innovations from aviation and space research to develop new solutions for problems of road and rail transport.