I'm trying to create a massive contained zero-g environment that can sustain many life-forms including humans. The research that I'm doing doesn't make it look good. Seems like we just need gravity.

But say we could build a human to survive in zero-g without the problems astronauts have encountered so far, what changes would have to be made? Or maybe another way to approach this question is what would make a human who can survive in zero-g different from us, who cant?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Replace human DNA completely with something that evolved in 0g environment. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Jan 15 '18 at 22:00
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "Falling free" by Lois McMaster Bujold is focused on this. $\endgroup$ – Oleg Lobachev Jan 15 '18 at 22:28

Strictly speaking, you don't really need to do anything to adapt humans to 0g per se -the body adapts to it just fine. You might even live longer.

The problem is mostly adapting to 0g without un-adapting to 1g. Once your muscles lean themselves down having gotten used to moving in 0g, landing on Earth may as well be landing on Jupiter.

The smallest change would probably be amplifying the body's response to physical stress: to wit, exercise less, gain more. Then it would take less exercising to maintain strength and allow for training up for an Earthside trip (or, perhaps, for a long burn). Alternatively, slow down the rate of muscle atrophy for similar results.

Beyond that, changes to the speed at which humans adapt to gravity changes would be valuable, to help cope with adaptation times and acceleration.

You'd want to avoid too many changes, though. Humans are pretty well optimised for Earth and if you go monkeying about too much with us it'd be easy to make us unable to survive on Earth anyway.

  • $\begingroup$ The research I've found suggests that humans don't adapt well to zero-g. Especially not in the long run. Bone and muscle atrophy, blood and other bodily fluids not circulating the usual way, not to mention not being able to get around easily. Are you suggesting that these are actually not that bad and that its more a matter of "getting used to it?" $\endgroup$ – Len Jan 16 '18 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ A bit of both. Bone and muscle atrophy mainly because you aren't using them, which is because you don't need them - this only becomes an issue when you try to come back. Other issues, like "bird leg syndrome" and congestion (caused by the fact that our bodies overall are made to pump fluids upwards harder than they are pumped downwards) would probably not go away. There are also the same health issues caused by a sedentary lifestyle on Earth, only more severe, but these can be helped by exercise. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Jan 17 '18 at 14:08

Maybe the Ousters from the book "Hyperion" by Dan Simmons could be something similar to what you want. They have evolved naturally, as well as genetically modifying themselves over the years to better suit the 0g environment. The novel describes them as being 3 meters tall, having feet that grip like hands as well as tails.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.