Medical and biological research is also an essential part of space travel. Its importance will grow with the massive generalized stays in the orbit of the Earth and, soon, the Moon.
However, they will play an important role on long-range flights to Mars, or on Mars and the Moon. The fact that there will be a permanent basis for scientists and settlers in this century is more or less certain,
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NASA has conducted extensive scientific experimentation to investigate the effects of space travel on the human body. In a NASA study, she compared twin astronauts, one of whom had an almost annual mission in space, and the other spent the same time on Earth. She discovered that most of the dramatic changes that have occurred with the human body in the universe are not permanent.
Scott Kelly spent time with Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornijenko in space and ISS from March 27, 2015 to March 2, 2016, up to 340 days, 8 hours and 42 minutes. Kelly's team won the lead among US astronauts in spaceflight time
During his stay, Scott Kelly's body recorded many physical and genetic changes that his twin brother Mark Kelly, also an astronaut, did not feel on Earth at the same time.
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Key findings from the NASA Gemini Study include findings on changes in gene expression, immune system response and telomere dynamics.
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White cell telomeres are biomarkers at the end of chromosomes. Scott Kelly stayed unexpectedly longer in space, and after returning to Earth, he was shortened to an average telomer in six months. On the contrary, his brother's telomeres remained stable throughout the period.
Truncated telomeres are associated with aging and disease. Susan Bailey, a co-author of the study, said the survey was the first measure of the length of telomeres in astronaut chromosomes.
Because telomeres are important for cell genomic stability, further studies of the telomere dynamics in future long-term missions are planned.
The second important finding is that Scott's immune system responded adequately in space. The influenza vaccine applied in space worked exactly like on Earth. A fully functional immune system during long-term space missions is critical to protecting the astronauts' health from hostile microbes in a spacecraft.
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The third great discovery is the variability in gene expression that reflects how the body responds to its environment and helps to inform how gene expression is related to the health risks associated with space flight. The researchers observed changes in Scott's gene expression while remaining on the ISS, but most returned to normal within six months after returning to Earth.
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However, a small percentage of genes related to the immune system and DNA repair did not return to Earth. This poses a challenge to scientists exploring long space travel or stays, such as traveling to Mars.
The results also identified the key genes to be used to monitor the health of future astronauts and to develop countermeasures.
Scientists believe the study will explain how the human body can adapt and recover from the dramatic charge of space flight. Research can also help understand how the human body responds to various stressors, such as diseases.
According to Jenn Fogarty, senior scientist at NASA's Human Research "Twins Study", she demonstrated at the molecular level the resilience and robustness of the human body's ability to adapt to the spaceflight environment.
For future successful Earth orbits and long-term permanence on the Moon, on Mars, and subsequently on other objects in the solar system (some of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn are taken into account), it is essential to understand the behavior of the organism in space .