Astronauts are affected by zero-gravity both mentally and physically.
(Mirror Daily, United States) – After 340 days spent on the ISS, Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly are now experiencing Earth’s gravity again. Last Friday, a group of scientists led an AMA session when they answered the questions of all Reddit users who were curious about the results of the year-long experiment. The main topics were how long space missions affect the health of astronauts and how the results will influence the future mission to Mars.
According to the chief scientist of the ISS, Julie Robinson, the experiment is far from being over. Relevant samples that the two men collected during the year they spent on the Space Station will arrive in May. Also, the American and the Russian volunteers will be tested for approximately six months, on a regular basis.
Robinson declared that even if NASA had the Mars spacecraft ready to go, they wouldn’t launch the mission for another couple of years because they still don’t know how long space missions affect the health of astronauts.
Space Affects the Muscles, Eyes and Bones
The human body undergoes a number of physical changes while being exposed to weightlessness. Astronauts usually lose some muscle mass and a certain amount of bone density. But fortunately, they all grow back when they return to Earth.
Also, one interesting effect is that the individuals that spend a lot of time in zero-gravity grow a bit due to the lack of gravity that compresses the spine. But, as in the case of the muscle mass, this problem is also remediated when the astronauts are exposed to gravity once more.
A more interesting, and permanent, physical change is a loss of vision. Because the zero-gravity conditions cause a shift in brain fluids, the optic nerve swells and presses on the back area of the eye. This causes the ocular globe to flatten.
But the scientists did not notice a pattern. It may be that the affected astronauts were predisposed to such conditions.
Will NASA Build the Mars Space Craft With Artificial Gravity in Mind?
Unfortunately, Robinson said that, for the moment, artificial gravity on a large spacecraft remains a thing for the science-fiction world.
While NASA did experiment with the technology, there are a few setbacks that made them renounce the idea of implementing such technology on the Mars mission spacecraft.
What about Senioritis?
This is another problem that will eventually be handled by the mission commanders. Kelly and Kornienko were able to call their family members from a satellite phone. They even had access to Twitter and Facebook. The real Mars mission will not allow the members any form of direct communication.
That is why the selection trials will be rigorous. NASA wants only crew members that can spend long periods without talking to anybody else aside their fellow colleagues.
They need people who can work in a team, who are able to avoid or resolve conflict.
All in all, the “year in space” experiment is far from being over, scientists now having to analyze the tremendous amounts of data provided by the two brave men, Kelly and Kornienko.
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