The highly-anticipated recent NASA mission that saw two astronauts sent into space featured something unprecedented: one of the astronauts happens to have a twin brother.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark Kelly – the non-NASA brother – stayed on Earth. The mission by NASA was part of an attempt to see the affects of space on Earth for the improvement of healthcare interventions.
“While the data are still being studied carefully, NASA recently released some intriguing preliminary findings. Kelly launched aboard the Russian Soyuz Rocket on March 27 2015,” The WEF said, “along with Russian cosmonauts Genaldy Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko (joining Kelly on the one year mission).”
Scott Kelly spent 340 days on the International Space Station. Both Mark and Scott provided large numbers of biological samples for the research prior to the launch of the 340-day mission.
With an examination of the molecular alterations, NASA is hoping to understand how certain proteins and bacteria in the body are influenced by nature or nurture by taking advantage of the extreme environmental differences between living on Earth or in space.
Many space agencies have expressed a “shared goal of taking people to Mars.” This will require a about 3 years away from Earth, and then taking about six months travelling to Mars in microgravity, followed by more than a year on the Martian surface.
Mars has about 1/3 the gravity of Earth. The travellers will need to prepare accordingly because there are effects on the body from the space travel because of the extreme conditions of space environments.
The WEF noted that microgravity has considerable effects on the human body. These include posture, muscle wasting, bone density loss, and reduction in the blood in the body. As well, the heart gets smaller.
One of the findings from the research through the twin study was that Scott’s – the one that went into space – telomeres appeared to shorten, which protect the DNA and become shorter as we age and increases damage to DNA as we age.
One speculation by the WEF author was that the research could increase the human lifespan.