News / Science & Technology

Can We Adjust to Life in Space?

This undated image provided by the University of Utah shows the Andromeda galaxy, made by the Hubble Space Telescope. This undated image provided by the University of Utah shows the Andromeda galaxy, made by the Hubble Space Telescope.
This undated image provided by the University of Utah shows the Andromeda galaxy, made by the Hubble Space Telescope.
This undated image provided by the University of Utah shows the Andromeda galaxy, made by the Hubble Space Telescope.
George Putic
Humans have an innate urge to explore the unknown and as space enthusiasts like to say ‘space is the final frontier.’  But scientists warn extended space exploration is not going to be easy because we are not made for longer stays in that alien world.     

According to a report published in The New York Times, scientists preparing astronauts for missions to the Moon, an asteroid or Mars, want to make sure that crews return home in good health.  But many issues still wait for solutions

First of all, we evolved on a planet whose surface is more than 70 percent water, and our bodies consist of about the same percentage of water.  In zero gravity that water floats upwards, raising the pressure inside the skull, while legs atrophy.

That may be the reason why five years ago scientists among astronauts, spending longer times on the International Space Station (ISS), reported gradual change in eyesight.  Subsequent research confirmed that eyeballs of some of them became flattened.  The fact that the phenomenon appears to affect the right eye more than the left one and men more than women makes the problem even more daunting.

Bone loss was one of the issues first reported by astronauts returning to Earth after longer stays in space, so scientists designed exercise machines that helped them keep their bones almost as good as when they left.

There are other issues, such as trouble with eating and sleeping, but radiation remains the biggest of them.  At home we are all protected by the Earth’s atmosphere and its magnetic field, which are nonexistent in outer space.

NASA does not allow the cancer risk for its astronauts to be raised more than three percent during their lifetime, due to the danger of developing cancer.  But at Brookhaven National Laboratory, on Long Island, scientists studying the effect of cosmic rays on mice say they also detected possible brain damage.

Another problem is the impossibility of real-time conversation with mission control during long flights, such as to Mars, as it will take minutes for each response to get back.  

Meanwhile, sealed up in their spaceship for months, astronauts who must work as a well-adjusted, cohesive team may develop personality issues.

U.S. space agency NASA plans to send humans to Mars sometimes in the third decade of this century.  The mission would take about 2.5 years - almost six times longer than the longest stay in space to date.  Partly due to the need for more medical research about effects of longer stay in space NASA extended the life of the International Space Station to 2024.

Beginning 2015 an American astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut are scheduled to stay on the station one full year.  One of them, Russian Valery Polyakov already stayed longer than a year on the Russian space station Mir in 1994 and 1995.

With today’s more sensitive instruments and methods, scientists want to find out whether all the changes in the human body and mind, due to prolonged stay in zero gravity, will continue or level off after a few months.

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Comment Sorting
by: Brotherjohnf
January 30, 2014 8:09 AM
"four candidates – who will be sent to live on Mars for the remainder of their lives"

Hahahaha. What a pathetic joke. What is this? The Jetsons? This thing is a HOAX. All these space missions are hoaxers for a godless, new age, brain dead, TV addled, generation of mind controlled slaves. God made the earth. God made the stars. Mankind will NEVER travel to other planets or stars because it is an IMPOSSIBLE dream for all the godless dreamers who deny the truth of scripture. Stop believing in the devil's hoaxes and open your eyes to the real world. NASA is just a big bunch of liars and thieves.
In Response

by: Lorenzo Gonzales from: San Antonio, Texas
January 31, 2014 10:00 AM
You are a truly pathetic lowlife who still live in the Dark Ages.

by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Shinagawa, TKO
January 29, 2014 6:12 PM
Even on the earth we have many places where human can not stay longer such as top of the highest mountain, polar area and deep sea. Only explorers want to go there and most people have no interest to go and stay there.
Outer space is the same thing and no need to adjust ourselves.

by: joe from: usa
January 29, 2014 5:13 PM
I still don't know why they haven't built the iss with rotating rings around a cylinder hub. There are ways around floating mindlessly in space.

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