“Below, our goal is to gain a better idea of the underlying mechanisms, of what happens during a long space flight in the human body and how it differs among humans,” said Susan Bailey, a biologist at Colorado State University. “Not everyone reacts the same way.”
Cosmos: Gallery of possible worlds
A one-way trip to Mars can take about seven months, meaning a circular trip takes at least more than a year to space – not counting any time explored on the planet itself. While this may not seem like a long time, relatively speaking, it’s just embarrassing from the record that one person lasted the longest in space. Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov spent 438 consecutive days on the International Space Station in 2016.
However, this is only a unique case. To truly test the long-term health effects of space travel, we will inevitably need a larger sample. Currently, much of the data is pooled as part of NASA’s GeneLab project. This is a more cost-effective way for scientists to test samples and compare data.
The results of one such test indicated a collective change in the mitochondria of the subjects – tiny organelles in our cells that help convert food into useful energy. “What we rediscovered was that something was going on with the mitochondrial regulation that throws it all out,” said Afshin Beheshti, a bioinformatics expert at NASA’s Ames Research Center.While the idea of life in space or on some other planet is certainly appealing, we obviously need to understand a lot more first. For more space news, read about NASA’s discovery of water on the moon, as well as possible signs of life on Venus.
Matthew Adler is a writer of features, news, reviews, reviews and wikis for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @MatthewAdler and watch him stream on Twitch.