Early findings from NASA’s Twin Study, which tracked the health of astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, suggests that space travel may have more complex effect on human health than previously thought. The twins were placed under the lenses before, during, and after a nearly one-year mission in space. The mission’s main objective, which began in 2015, was to unravel the health effects of long-term space travel.
In most cases, manned space missions don’t last more than 5-6 months. But now and then, some longer missions take place, such as one that spanned 400 days during the 1990s. Scott’s 2015 mission is one of the longest in recent history, and also one of the most promising of all, thanks to recent advancements in physiological and genetic sciences.
When he arrived, Scott’s health state was compared to his pre-mission state as well as that of his twin brother, who remained on the ground. Mark and Scott not only share physical and biological attributes, but they also have similar lifestyles.
According to the findings, Scott’s chromosomes expanded in space. The researchers suggest that this may have resulted from more intense exercising and a drop in calorie intake. That seemed to be the case because his chromosomes gained back its normal composure six months after he returned to earth. Scott says that after 8 months, he recovered from these symptoms as well as many others that are common among astronauts.
However, Scott also experienced some permanent physical and psychological changes. Upon his return, he grew slightly taller by 2 inches, and his cognitive abilities took a slight dip. Also, his DNA sustained some damages from radioactive exposure, and his vision has been altered due to some long-term fluid changes.
The studies continued long after Scott landed back in 2016, and the first report was released in 2019. More details of the study are still forthcoming, as NASA researchers plan to release the complete results later on this year.
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