One-Year Mission: The effect of microgravity on the human body

Scientists conduct various types of experiments to find the pros and cons of different things on human body. Before conducting on humans scientists conduct their experiments on animals. But this strategy is not applicable while conducting space study. NASA and different space agencies send astronauts to study the effect of space on the human body. NASA conducted such experiment in 2015.

Scott Kelly and his Russian colleague Mikhail Kornienko was sent to space in March 2015. They were sent for 11 months (340 days) in space by NASA. The main purpose of this mission was to comprehend how such long periods without gravity disturb the human body. These two astronauts returned in March 2016 but scientists are still trying to comprehend what these men had learned. The paper lays out the test which was conducted in the “One-Year Mission” of Kelly and Kornienko and it contextualizes it in the framework of longer space flight. This mission is necessary to understand so that mission to Mars could be made possible, which would be of about two years or more.

Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly
Image Credit: NASA

NASA wants to know how the human body will react in different conditions in space. NASA’s astronauts spent a maximum of 6 months in space before One-Year Mission. This was the reason NASA was very desperate to conduct this mission.

17 different investigations were conducted on the two men before, during and after their stay in the space. The primary functions of these investigations were to find out the response of the human body in these conditions. The study included their sleep patterns, how fluids move in the body under minimum gravity and changes of normal microbiota in and on the body. Scientist are analyzing the data they have obtained. Scientists have also compared this data with their previous data (data obtained through shorter space flights). In addition to this, Kelly’s twin brother (Mark Kelly) was taken as a ‘control’ and Kelly’s data has been compared to his twin brother to find out the changes which have occurred in his body during the flight. Mark Kelly is also an astronomer.

Unluckily NASA could not gather much information from this mission because ‘One-Year Mission’ does not match the time period which is needed to go to Mars. But the positive aspect of this study is that it has given scientists the idea about future studies which will be conducted for much longer space flights.

Scientists want to take a big step and conduct the same experiment on 10 astronauts rather than 2. They also want to increase the duration of the mission. NASA has shown much interest in this proposal.

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