NASA seems to have lucked out by having astronauts who are twins.
Mark and Scott Kelly, both American astronauts, agreed to participate in what’s being called the ‘Twins Study.’ This study sought to explore what, if any, effects space would have on a person’s DNA if they spent a significant amount of time away from Earth.
As it turns out, it makes you taller and causes your chromosomes to get bigger.
Mark and Scott were asked to provide biological samples at three different times: before Scott left Earth, while Scott was in space, and then once again after he’d arrived home. Scott spent almost an entire year in space while his brother Mark remained here on Earth.
When Scott got back, they discovered he had actually grown two inches in height, among a slew of other interesting finds:
- The telomeres on the ends of Scott’s chromosomes in white blood cells had lengthened during his time in space, and then shortened upon his return. Normally, telomeres shorten as one gets older.
- His levels of DNA modification seemed to slow down while he was in space, but became normal after returning to Earth.
- Scott's cognitive functions were slightly slower after his stint in space.
- During the later half of his stay in space, Scott’s bone formation also slowed down.
- Two of Scott’s dominant bacterial groups seemed to be more prevalent while he was in space when compared to when he was on Earth.
These findings will likely be discussed and considered if and when mankind decides to launch some type of interstellar mission that would require humans to be travelling through space for extended periods of time.
What do you think about the possibility of your DNA changing while in space? Would you risk it?