When astronauts return to Earth from space, they can experience a number of health and physical issues after they land — a result of living without gravity.
For flights that go as long as six months, astronauts can experience difficulties with balance, muscle weakness and cardiovascular deconditioning, according to NASA. Although the Inspiration4 flight was only three days long, the four astronauts returning will also receive a health screening.
It’s unclear exactly what that health screening might consist of. Health researchers working with Inspiration4 said the astronauts were to undertake some experiments that gauge their sense of balance — standing without swaying and moving between sitting and standing positions.
They will also perform a series of tests measuring their cognitive performance — the same ones they performed before liftoff and each during orbit.
A NASA medical requirements overview from the era when astronauts flew on the space shuttles provides an idea of what doctors look for in astronauts returning from shorter flights in space.
For flights that last less than 30 days, doctors screen the astronauts’ vital signs and look for neurological issues as well as problems with chest and lungs.
Headaches, dizziness, vertigo and feeling faint are among the neurological symptoms that doctors screen for in astronauts.
The functions of the eyes of returning astronauts are also checked, and they are asked to perform a series of tasks, including: touching their finger to their nose, rising from a chair, lifting a leg and hopping, walking in a straight line and then turning, and a heel-toe-walk.
If the doctors observe enough issues, they may decide that an astronaut needs to undergo additional testing.