UofL researchers are studying the best ways to keep astronauts healthy in space.
Kathy Carter, graduate student Ling Bai, John Caruso - all from Department of Health and Sport Sciences.

Did you know astronauts lose bone density and muscle mass when spending more than a month in space, even if they routinely work out? It’s true and two University of Louisville researchers are working with NASA on ways to keep astronauts healthier while they’re in outer space.

John Caruso and Kathy Carter are colleagues in the department of health and sport sciences. They’ve completed one preliminary study using the Impulse rapid exercise machine that simulates the weightlessness of space. They found that working out in this machine suppressed the breakdown in a person’s heel bone, the first to show signs of density loss among astronauts.

“This is potentially big news for NASA” Caruso said.

The UofL faculty members are also launching another study of an astronaut’s diet. NASA has traditionally prescribed a Paleo diet but Caruso and Carter think a diet that’s heavier in protein and carbohydrates might be better for the athletic astronauts who are doing rigorous workouts every day.

“Changing diet is tough for anybody, but especially when you’re up in space and really want comfort food. It’s going to be hard to convince them this is what they really need to do,” Carter said. “But if we can show it’s going to make them healthier on their return to earth, that’s going to be a big motivator.”  

Hear more about Caruso and Carter’s research in their interview on “UofL Today with Mark Hebert.


Mark Hebert
Following a 28-year career as a radio and television reporter, Mark Hebert joined the University of Louisville as the Director of Media Relations in 2009, serving as the main spokesperson. In 2015, Mark was named Director of Programming and Production. He’s now producing and hosting a radio show about “all things UofL”, overseeing the university’s video and TV productions and promoting UofL’s research operation. Mark is best known for his 22 years as the political and investigative reporter for WHAS-TV in Louisville where he won numerous awards for breaking stories, exposing corruption and objectively covering Kentucky politics. In 2014, Mark was inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.