• An Nguyen

A Year in Space

Ever wondered what would happen to the human body after spending a whole year in space? Retired astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly, who are identical twin brothers, volunteered to help researchers understand the effect of space travel on the human body.

According to CNN.com/Health, the project was called “The Twin Study.” It involved comparing data from before, during, and after astronaut Scott Kelly's mission in space with those of his identical twin brother, Mark, back on Earth. Scott was in space for a year with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko.

Preliminary results from the unique study and the one-year mission of Kelly and Kornienko were released at the annual Investigator's Workshop for NASA's Human Research Program.

Chemical modifications to Scott's DNA decreased while he was in space, but they returned to normal once he was back on Earth. Mark's also shifted around the midpoint of the study but were normal at the end. Researchers believe that this shows how sensitive genes are to changing environments, in space or on Earth.

Overall, the preliminary results are reassuring that a year in space is not significantly more stressful than six months in space. To get more definitive insights, we must wait for the further analysis of the samples and supporting data, the correlation of findings among all the investigators, and future long-duration ISS missions with these and other genetic investigations.