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Video: How Will NASA Astronauts Exercise on a Mission to Mars?

The MED-2 is a compact exercise device part of the 5 x 2015 initiative IE class, and will head to the International Space Station.

The MED-2 is a compact exercise device part of the 5 x 2015 initiative IE class, and will head to the International Space Station. // NASA

On March 22, astronauts aboard the International Space Station will be getting a new way to work out. The Miniature Exercise Device, or MED-2, will be launched into low Earth orbit aboard the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo vehicle.

For astronauts in microgravity, exercise is essential for preventing muscle atrophy and bone loss. Currently, crewmembers aboard the ISS spend a few hours each day using a specialized treadmill, stationary bike and weight-lifting device known as the ARED. All of this equipment can be heavy and bulky in the tight quarters of the station. 

The MED-2 weighs less than 6 percent of the mass of the ARED and can provide both an aerobic and strength training workout for astronauts in small spaces -- whether that's the ISS or a spacecraft headed to Mars. 

To see the machine in action, check out the video below from NASA. 

By Caitlin Fairchild March 22, 2016

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