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.
x
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.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs