NASA will soon release the result of the study made on twins where scientists analyzed the effect of space traveling on human genes. The genetic experiment involved Scott and Mark Kelly, two astronauts, to reveal the effects of long-term space journeys on the human body. Previous studies already noted that space traveling has an impact on a person’s gene expression and biology.
- NASA’s scientists developed a new study on identical twins analyzing Mark and Scott Kelly.
- They compared several tests’ result of Mark’s, who was on Earth, to Scott’s, who was on ISS for a year.
- Scientists revealed that microgravity has effects on human genes.
Between 2015 and 2016, Scott was aboard the International Space Station for 340 days. Meanwhile, Mark was on Earth because he retired from NASA. The primary goal of NASA’s scientists was to compare the genetic and physical differences which may occur between the twin brothers, analyzing the effect of long-term living in microgravity on Scott’s body. The twin brother underwent several tests during and after Scott got back to Earth.
Mark and Scott are identical twins. Thus they have the same genetics. The samples used for the experiment had revealed that their bodies had diverged even when their genes were examined. Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine, stated that scientists reported noticing differences.
When Scott returned to Earth, researchers revealed that Scott’s telomeres were longer than Mark’s. Telomeres represent the protective caps situated at the end of DNA strands. Since Scott returned home, his telomeres returned to the initial lengths they were before his ISS mission. Now, researchers are determined to analyze the effect of space traveling on other astronauts’ telomeres.
What is more, scientists also noticed that during his stay at the ISS, Scott Kelly experienced less DNA methylation. Certain types of molecules, namely methyl are added to DNA molecules. In the meantime, his brother Mark had also experienced a DNA methylation during the same period. Scientists are still trying to find how this was possible considering the fact that one was in space and the other one was on Earth.
Since the space agency has a new project under development regarding a human Mars mission in the 2030s, NASA scientists are prone to find out more about the effects of extended space travels and stay in microgravity. Based on data provided by NASA, a round trip mission to Mars may last more than a year, people being bound to spend more time in weightless environments.
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