After A Year In Space, NASA Astronaut's Genes Have Changed. Possibly For Good.




 

After spending a year in space, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is not the man he used to be - at least genetically speaking.

His genetic expression has changed, according to preliminary results from a NASA study that compared the bodily changes between the astronaut and his identical twin, who stayed on Earth while Kelly was aboard the International Space Station.

About 7 percent of Kelly's genes have yet to "return to normal" ― almost two years after his yearlong expedition came to an end. Kelly has since retired from NASA.

The Twins Study, as it's been dubbed, looked at what happened to Kelly - both from a physiological and psychological perspective - before, during and after his trip in space, and then compared that data to Kelly's twin brother, Mark.

Mark Kelly is also a retired NASA astronaut. Unlike his brother, however, who spent months at a time in space, Mark's missions were on the shorter side. His last ― and longest ― mission, which took place in 2011, lasted 15 days.

NASA described the research as a "perfect nature versus nurture study" ― one that could provide important insights into the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body.

"By measuring large numbers of [the brothers'] metabolites, cytokines and proteins, researchers learned that spaceflight is associated with oxygen deprivation stress, increased inflammation, and dramatic nutrient shifts that affect gene expression," NASA said of the study's initial findings.

Although most of the biological changes Kelly experienced in space disappeared in the hours and days (and in some cases, weeks) after his return to Earth, NASA said some alterations appear to have persisted.

While 93 percent of his genetic expression has returned to normal, several hundred "space genes" have remained altered, the data suggests. NASA said this could indicate "longer term changes" in the genes caused by the stresses of spaceflight.

NASA said it would be releasing more findings from the Twins Study in the coming months. This research, they added, will inform their planning for a mission to Mars, which would see astronauts spending some three years in space.

Reacting to the news of the study results this week, Kelly expressed amazement at his body's changes ― and also used the opportunity to poke fun at his brother.

"This could be good news," he joked on Twitter. "I no longer have to call [Mark] my identical twin brother anymore."

COMMENTS

More Related News

NASA shuffles crew for Boeing Starliner space taxi
NASA shuffles crew for Boeing Starliner space taxi's test flight due to medical issue

NASA says a medical issue is forcing a switch in the crew for the Boeing Starliner space taxi's first crewed test flight to the International Space Station, currently scheduled for August. Astronaut Eric Boe will no longer be on the flight due to unspecified medical reasons, NASA announced today. Instead, three-time spaceflier Mike Fincke will take Boe's place alongside NASA's Nicole Mann and Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson. Fincke will begin training for the Starliner flight immediately, while Boe will replace Fincke as assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at Johnson Space Center in Texas,… Read More

From Olsen twins to Madden brothers: Celebrities with twins you may not have known about
From Olsen twins to Madden brothers: Celebrities with twins you may not have known about

From the Olsen twins to Scarlett Johansson and her fraternal twin brother, these celebrities have a twin that you may or may not have known about.

U.S. And China Embark on New Era of Space Collaboration. First up, the Moon
U.S. And China Embark on New Era of Space Collaboration. First up, the Moon

U.S. And China Embark on New Era of Space Collaboration. First up, the Moon

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.