Scientists found that genetic change can happen to humans who stay in space for a period of time. This information would be useful as more potentials for space explorations and tourism are being explored today.
The condition in outer space is significantly different from what is here on Earth, the place our bodies are used to and built for. In fact, NASA already provided various studies on what happens to our bodies when we are in space.
Human Body in Space
Through NASA’s Human Research Program, further studies on how the body respond to the different condition in space are investigated for years. Astronauts sent to space always face challenges not only physically, but emotionally as well.
Being in space means isolation from people, especially from family and friends, for months. There is no other choice but to stay confined in a limited space with three other people that are picked by the boss.
Not only that but they also face serious health risks from exposure to radiation, a diet of freeze-dried food, and the deterioration of muscles and bones if there is no exercise. But is that not all as more risks are foreseen especially when staying in the space station is compared to exploring Mars.
Genetic Change in Humans
Meanwhile, a recent study by NASA showed how the human’s genetic levels changed from staying in space for quite some time. The research was made possible with twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelley who are excellent subjects since they have almost identical genomes and same experiences with the same career.
Their biological samples were observed as Mark was left here on Earth while Scott stayed in the International Space Station for 340 days. Strikingly, the brothers’ data showed significant variations on their biological markers including chromosomes and gut bacteria.
Additionally, Scott’s telomeres (tips of the chromosome) were seen to be longer yet it returned to normal after he was back on Earth. His DNA methylation levels (what cells used to control gene expression) decreased while in space too, while Mark’s, who is on Earth, increased. It also came back to its base levels once Scott was on the ground.
Further research will be done if this development also occurs to other astronauts. Moreover, the study still needs to be peer-reviewed before the results are given sheer volume data.
Still, the finding of the potential human genetic change in space is a significant discovery especially at this time of more space explorations being delved into. Understanding and getting as much information as possible on the impacts of space to our body is essential in early mitigations of its harm, and solution, for our space adventurers.