Space travel is one of the most ambitious moves of humans to break frontiers and turn the impossible into possible. While it remains a science-fiction subject, there are already several private missions that dream of inhabiting another planet than Earth, possibly Mars. As few people have ever reached the space where physical laws are different, it is important first to realize how this realm really affects our organism. NASA has just reached some several conclusions after one twin brother returned to Earth after 340 days in space.
The scientists at NASA are curious how space travel can really impact our human body. They will be able to understand more of such effects after they finish analyzing two of their astronauts. These are actually Mark and Scott Kelly who are twin brothers. They are both passionate about the mysteries of space. Between 2015 and 2016, Scott Kelly was active at the International Space Station while his brother was on Earth, enjoying his retirement.
The NASA scientists took advantage of this situation and pursued a series of analyses on the pair of brothers. After 340 days spent on Earth, Scott returned to his brother. This is why scientists are now able to spot the differences between the two of them both with the naked eye and with a series of tests. The procedure had started before Scott left Earth which enabled researchers to collect data under normal circumstances as well.
What makes this study have an ideal nature is that Mark and Scott are identical brothers which means that they have the same genetics. The main difference that scientists spotted was at the level of telomeres. This is a region at the end of DNA that offers protection against deterioration. After his ISS mission, Scott came back with longer telomeres than his brother’s. However, after a time of readjustment to Earth again, the protective caps regained their initial length.
Another peculiarity was recorded at the level of DNA methylation. This is a process where genes are repressed from transcription, and this is usually related to the aging effect. After 340 days in space, Scott had a lower activity of DNA methylation while his brother Mark experienced an acceleration of the process. However, Scott came to havesimilar levels of DNA methylation with Mark after he returned to Earth. While there are still a lot of unanswered questions, this study will surely help scientists further in the future. Thanks to this research, they now know what aspects to pay attention to when other astronauts leave the blue planet for another adventurous space travel.
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