The research agreement recently signed by DAN Divers Alert Network Europe and ALTEC Aerospace Logistic Technology Engineering Company aims to study the physiological changes and conditions that can occur when humans are exposed to extreme environments. It is a memorandum of understanding to launch collaborative initiatives for scientific and technological research between the two partners.

The collaboration between DAN and ALTEC (and its first step, the project called SkiScubaSpace) also aims to aggregate other researchers and institutions interested in these issues, from gravitational physiology to space medicine, from diving physiology to hyper / hypobaric  medicine, from sports  medicine to ergonomics, from disability to extreme human performance.

Both DAN research (dive technology, physiology and hyperbaric medicine, pathophysiology, ergonomics, physiology of Immersion) and ALTEC interest in Space Medicine (gravitational physiology, man in space, technology and methodologies to support the astronauts’ activities, ergonomic astronautical activities) will benefit from this synergy and by the planned opening to other areas, such as aviation, extreme and paralympic sports, rehabilitation.

Human performance in extreme conditions is the aim of the research project SkiScubaSpace, which puts the underwater world at the center of a unique research trilogy: the project will study the human performance in these three extreme environments (deep underwater, space, extreme mountain peaks) but also aims to start a detailed debate on how the human body reacts in these three different conditions, be they real or simulated. The project will study the various aspects of the reaction of the human body in particular conditions of gravity, pressure and temperature.

SPACE:
The similarities and/or differences between real zero gravity and simulated zero gravity in terms of their physiologic and physio-pathological effects on the human body will be studied with parabolic flights and possibly on board the International Space Station for the real zero gravity component, while simulated zero gravity will be obtained both in ALTEC’s Neutral Buoyancy pool (a pool with unique technological features), which has supported astronautics since its very beginning, and in the Y-40 pool which, thanks to its depth, will allow a study of the human body underwater, in a unique medical consulting room set up at a depth of -42 meters.

The research agreement recently signed by DAN Divers Alert Network Europe and ALTEC Aerospace Logistic Technology Engineering Company aims to study the physiological changes and conditions that can occur when humans are exposed to extreme environments. It is a memorandum of understanding to launch collaborative initiatives for scientific and technological research between the two partners.

The collaboration between DAN and ALTEC (and its first step, the project called SkiScubaSpace) also aims to aggregate other researchers and institutions interested in these issues, from gravitational physiology to space medicine, from diving physiology to hyper / hypobaric  medicine, from sports  medicine to ergonomics, from disability to extreme human performance.

Both DAN research (dive technology, physiology and hyperbaric medicine, pathophysiology, ergonomics, physiology of Immersion) and ALTEC interest in Space Medicine (gravitational physiology, man in space, technology and methodologies to support the astronauts’ activities, ergonomic astronautical activities) will benefit from this synergy and by the planned opening to other areas, such as aviation, extreme and paralympic sports, rehabilitation.

Human performance in extreme conditions is the aim of the research project SkiScubaSpace, which puts the underwater world at the center of a unique research trilogy: the project will study the human performance in these three extreme environments (deep underwater, space, extreme mountain peaks) but also aims to start a detailed debate on how the human body reacts in these three different conditions, be they real or simulated. The project will study the various aspects of the reaction of the human body in particular conditions of gravity, pressure and temperature.

Pool simulations will be used as training sessions for activities in real zero gravity, but also as an essential opportunity to study the similarities and differences between neutral buoyancy and microgravity as regards their impact on tissues, organs and systems, at various levels (musculoskeletal, nervous, cardiocirculatory, respiratory, digestive, urinary, lymphatic and immune systems, as well as their possible interactions).

Scientific progress stemming from this project could provide useful information on the “practical” use of similar aspects and on the “management” of the differences between the two conditions, which could also be used to separate effects that appear simultaneously while in orbit and to give a definitive explanation to physiological processes that are still unclear.

The plan of activities relevant to this part of the project includes training sessions at the Neutral Buoyancy Test Facility ALTEC, Torino, tests within the deep pool, tests on parabolic flights, possible test on board the International Space Station ISS.

SKI
There are many well-known similarities between altitude and depth. If, on the one hand, pressure variations determine similar stresses on the organism, we cannot disregard the fact that, on the other hand, both situation cause particular hypoxia and hyperoxia conditions for cells and tissues to face.

It is not by chance that many of the diseases linked to these two conditions are similar, and linked to comparable genetic predispositions, as proven recently in studies conducted by DAN Europe.

Therefore, another important research area for SkiScubaSpace will cover a “normal” group of people who, for 3 years, will prepare the descent on skis or snowboards from higher and higher mountains, thus facing lower and lower pressure and oxygen availability conditions, as well as lower and lower temperatures.

The same individuals will also perform underwater dives under the same conditions, both with a breathing apparatus and in apnoea, allowing the creation of a comparison between similar environmental conditions and different types of performances.

The plan of activities for to this part of the project involves training outings at Abetone, Italy, 1500 mt, ascent and descent of Monte Rosa, Italy, 4634 mt, ascent and descent of Mount Elbrus, Russia 5642 mt, ascent and descent of the Ojos volcano, Argentina 6891 mt.

SCUBA:
The Scuba section of this project represents the hub around which all the exchanges and comparisons between different environments and different performances will be organized.

DAN Europe is an international, not-for-profit foundation that has assisted divers facing problems and has conducted scientific research for safer diving since 1983. Results obtained by DAN scientists up to now have turned into references for the international diving-medical community. DAN’s main research areas are diving technology, hyperbaric physiology and medicine, physiopathology, ergonomics, diving physiology.

As part of the SkiScubaSpace project, DAN Europe will set up an underwater medical consulting room, featuring all the equipment that is needed to perform scientific and medical tests during the dive. The same medical room will be reused in all of the research areas, including zero gravity and high altitude.

Cardiac and vascular ultrasounds, dopplers, ECGs, blood pressure tests and even some blood levels are among the tests that DAN Europe will perform in its Diving Safety Laboratory (DSL) directly in the concerned extreme environments.

The plan for this part of the project includes diving in the lake Santo, Pievepelago, at 1500 meters, in the Pinter lake 2700m, in the Dongozorun lake, Russia 3100 and tests on board the International Space Station (currently under evaluation)

The points of contact for the project are, for DAN Europe, Dr. Danilo CIALONI (Coordinator, Research Techniques Development; e-mail: dcialoni@daneurope.org; mob.: +39 – 3385852323), for ALTEC, Dr. Mario BENASSAI (Program Manager of Space Medicine and Biotechnology Applications; e-mail: mario.benassai@altecspace.it; mob.: +39 – 3667757974).