NASA seeks to develop a model capable of a wide range of physiologic simulations of exposure to microgravity over various time periods and environmental circumstances, engaging multiple physiologic systems, resulting in the most detailed systems analysis of human spaceflight available. This model, called Digital Astronaut, will be validated for both qualitative and quantitative accuracy by comparison to existing datasets of astronaut physiology using standard techniques for this type of analysis. A continuing incorporation of information from current space biomedical knowledge bases and literature into the model framework with a maturation of the microgravity specific elements of the model is desired. Specific attention should be focused on those biologic elements needed to complete a simulation of the functional task tests.
The Digital Astronaut will serve as a practical working tool for use by NASA in operational activities such as the prediction of biomedical risks and functional capabilities of astronauts participating in long duration missions. The basic backbone model contains over 5000 equations of biologic interactions and encompasses a variety of special physiologic processes of interest to humans during spaceflight including cardiovascular functioning and adaptations during spaceflight, muscle metabolism, neurohormonal adaptations to microgravity, and general nutritional and metabolic mass balance. The model software interface is designed to provide simple interaction of a desktop with a mainframe and will allow scientists to perform complex systems analysis and theoretical hypothesis testing on specific questions regarding human exposure to microgravity.