Universe exploration is a dream that can lead to game-changing discoveries. This mission can result in finding a second Earth, answers to ardent questions or new civilizations. However, until we get the necessary technology to make space travel viable, scientists are looking into the consequences to prolonged periods of time in the absence of gravity. The identical twins experiment that NASA conducted reveals that the changes of spaceflight on human body go deeper than the skin.
Space Travel Can Influence Even the DNA of Human Body
NASA’s Twins Study came back with preliminary findings that reveal the strong influence spaceflight has on humans. The primary investigator on this case, Chris Mason, claimed that these changes are visible the moment humans enter zero gravity area.
“Some of the most exciting things that we’ve seen from looking at gene expression in space is that we really see an explosion, like fireworks taking off, as soon as the human body gets into space.”
The famous experiment started in 2015 and lasted for one year. The research followed astronaut Scott Kelly on his year-long residency aboard the International Space Station. However, his brother Mark remained on Earth for the entire experiment and acted as the control subject.
Mark used to be an astronaut as well until he retired. The two brothers are a rare case of identical twins. These pairs are the only ones on Earth that share same DNA profile.
Mason claims that the human body goes through thousands of changes under the influence of space travel. The effects continue to linger for a little while upon the return of the person on Earth.
NASA’s Twins Study Is Ongoing Through 10 Different Investigations on the Kelly Brothers
The most striking finding is a methylation increase while Scott was in space. This process forces genes that are switching on and off to work at a greater speed at the level of DNA. There are a lot of blanks so far in this domain.
However, methylation was connected to gene expression, another branch that was not explored enough. At the moment, specialists believe that abnormalities in methylation lead to various types of cancer.
Nonetheless, the twins study is still ongoing. The project consists of 10 different investigations that collaborate between each other as one bigger research. So far, there are signs that space travel induces muscle atrophy, visual degradation, and weakened bone density. These data are necessary for scientists to understand how to build the ideal equipment for universe exploration.
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