Friday, January 16, 2015

Twin Astronauts Spend 1 Year and 200 Miles Apart From March 2015 to March 2016 - 1 on Earth, 1 on Station

""Astronaut Scott Kelly has a body double, his identical twin brother, retired astronaut Mark Kelly. And while Scott is making history over the next year — living on the International Space Station longer than any other American astronaut — Mark will be down here on Earth, being poked and prodded to determine how his brother is faring in space.
In March, NASA will send Scott Kelly on a yearlong mission to ISS, where he will live and work alongside Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko on as many as 500 experiments. Because the typical trip in space is some six months, the Kelly brothers will, in essence, be an experiment themselves, giving NASA a better understanding of how long stints in space affect astronauts — in preparation for an eventual human mission to Mars.
“This will give us our first glimpse of what happens to their bodies from six to 12 months,” NASA’s space station program scientist Julie Robinson said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “We want to find what risks might lurk there.”
Long-term space travel can do strange things to a person. Bones get weaker. Muscles lose mass. And the near zero-gravity can even make a man taller — a temporary side-effect that amused Scott Kelly when he returned from a mission in 2011 and noticed he was taller than his twin.
“It did last long enough that I could stand next to my brother and look down at him a little bit,” he told the Houston Chronicle.

The brothers are part of NASA’s “Twins Study,” which will look at how twins in radically different environments change over time. Researchers will compare the brothers’ immune systems, reaction time, vision and heart health, among other things, using blood and urine samples as well as other measurements. This will tell them how Scott Kelly’s DNA might have changed in space.
“From bone loss and muscle loss to effects on our immune system, vision, vestibular system and radiation,” Kelly told KPRC‑TV. “You do get a lot of radiation in space, and we know what radiation can do to people. So that is a concern.”
NASA is waiting to launch long-term space travel — including trips to the Red Planet — until it learns how the human form can handle it.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Russia sent four cosmonauts to the Mir Space Station for a year or more, but their health was monitored at only an elementary level, according to news reports.
Mark Kelly, the husband of former House member Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), volunteered for the study to do his part from home. But Robinson told reporters two test subjects are not enough, which is why NASA and its partners — Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada — are considering up to a dozen year-long test subjects at the space station, Associated Pressreported.""

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