A 7,000-meter-tall mountain — simulated in a laboratory

This mountain has no peaks and offers no beautiful views — it is located inside a research facility in Cologne. Two mountain climbers have volunteered to spend four weeks there, under extreme atmospheric conditions.

Ralf Dujmovits is the only German mountain climber who made it to all 14 mountains that are taller than 8,000 meters (26,247 feet).

Since mid-May, he and his wife — Canadian climber Nancy Hansen — have been living on top of a very special 7,000-meter-tall mountain: in an area of only 110 square meters and located in Cologne, Germany, not much above sea level.

DW-Sports journalist and passionate climber Stefan Nestler is covering the experiment of the two at the Envihab — a medical  research laboratory of the German Aerospace Center (DLR). 

Nancy Hansen being screened with ultrasound, while doctor wears an oxygen mask

The two mountain climbers are volunteering as guinea pigs in an experiment about hypoxia — a lack of oxygen that affects humans in high-lying areas or aboard planes (when air pressure cuts out).

Besides researching the harm hypoxia may cause, the Envihab doctors are also interested in finding out whether hypoxia or low air pressure can have any positive effects on the body.

Nestler tells the story in his blog Adventure Sport here: Two weeks on a quasi 7000er 

Here: Dujmovits: We are in good hands here 

And here: Prince and princess in the hypoxia chamber

Now live
02:14 mins.
DW News | 05.07.2013

Germany opens aerospace medical research lab

You can learn more about Envihab here:

Astronaut Tim Peake says his six months in space were 'great'

Bedridden for 60 days in the name of science

Gardens in space: how microalgae and flat panel reactors could sustain life

A space lab on Earth

May the bed rest begin!

On Wednesday, September 9, Cologne's Envihab kicks off a study in which 12 test subjects will feel what it's like to be in space. The catch? They'll have to lie down for two months straight. DW takes a look.

A space lab on Earth

Using space to understand the Earth

Astronauts' bodies undergo stress when they travel to and through space - their metabolic and endoctrine systems, among others, change. The Envihab research lab in Cologne aims to understand how the body evolves in space.

A space lab on Earth

Weak legs and muscles

When astronauts return to Earth from the International Space Station (ISS) they cannot walk. Their muscles have degenerated during the period of weightlessness. Without gravitation, blood moves away from the legs and builds up in the head.

A space lab on Earth

Staying fit

This fitness machine is attached to a short-arm centrifuge. Astronauts can use it to exercise their muscles. This kind of centrifuge can be to simulate gravity used during long space missions.

A space lab on Earth

A glimpse into the heart

The centrifuge at Envihab can go up to six times the Earth's gravitational acceleration - like during a rocket launch or in a fighter jet. This ultrasound machine, attached to a robot arm, can examine how the heart reacts during this process.

A space lab on Earth

Up close

The doctor can move the ultrasound machine very close above the test subject's body, allowing him to look directly into the heart or at other organs to see if they have moved during the intense accelerations, and whether or not blood vessels swell or decrease in size.

A space lab on Earth

When the brain goes into standby

EEGs, like the one shown here, help sleep researchers better understand how brain waves change , for instance when people nod off.

A space lab on Earth

When thinking changes direction

On Earth, it's pretty simple - gravitation always pulls us down. The universe around us seems to stand still. But in space, there's no up and down. So astronauts practice tricky maneuvers, like docking a space capsule, on computers before taking off.