Before the April 17 launch of Neurolab, the 16-day space shuttle Columbia flight during which 26 studies of the nervous system would be conducted, researchers differed in opinion concerning the microneurography experiment. Either the thin needle placed in a nerve just below the knee of an astronaut would show that electrochemical signals were being transmitted normally from brain to blood vessels via the autonomic nervous system, or the nerve activity would be greater in microgravity than on Earth, or it would decrease during space flight and the experiment wouldn't work at all. Astronaut James A. Pawelczyk, an assistant professor of kinesiology and physiology at Pennsylvania State University and a coinvestigator for this particular experiment, would be the one to insert the needle.
Back at the...
PLAYING CATCH: A spring-loaded apparatus measures the anticipatory contraction of James A. Pawelczyk's muscles as he prepares to catch a ball descending in microgravity.
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