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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 30, 2002 - Issue 75


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Dine' College Student Reports on Space Research

credits: Endeavor Blasts Off
Endeavor Blasts OffSHIPROCK, NM - Dine' College student Savran Clah returned Tuesday from the Kennedy Space Center where he'd gone to report on research he conducted at the Center last summer.

Clah's research was to determine whether a breathing valve might be effective in alleviating the dizziness and other unpleasant symptoms astronauts experience when they return to earth.

Under zero gravity conditions, blood tends to remain in the upper torso and does not flow normally into the feet; also, the heart works less, blood pressure is lower, and the body seeks to expel the "excess" liquid it detects in the midtorso.

Astronauts suffer dizziness, fainting spells, and nausea, sometimes lasting for days, when they return to earth because their cardiovascular systems have become accustomed to space.

Clah's research was to determine whether these symptoms might be reduced by having astronauts breathe through a valve that restricts the flow of air, making breathing harder. His research was to determine whether restricted breathing would improve heart stroke volume and increase blood pressure.

His results indicate that a 7 cm restriction had beneficial effects and a 12 cm restriction had little to none.

The valve, a so-called "Inspiratory Impedance Threshold Valve," will next be tested in space.

NASA scheduled Clah, a Navajo, to be at Cape Canaveral when the first Native American astronaut traveled into space, but the flight was postponed, much to Clah's disappointment. A high point of his visit to the Cape last summer had been to visit the restricted quarters where astronauts are kept in isolation for six weeks prior to launch.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dine' College provided this article.

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