NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent nearly 1 year in space (or 340 straight days), and his DNA seems changed. Kelly’s time spent on the International Space Station affected his body in critical ways.
NASA was able to assess the changes to Kelly’s body by looking at his twin Mark Kelly who remained home. The study dubbed The Twin Study observed the two brothers’ genome via a method called genetic sequencing.
A full report on the findings will appear this year. Researchers found that the twin who spent nearly a year in space had telomeres longer than his twin brother who stayed on Earth.
Telomers are DNA pieces that protect chromosomes from damage. As the body ages, they tend to get shorter. While this may mean that Scott’s stay in space has benefited him, it is not exactly accurate.
A couple of days upon arriving home the telomers shortened. NASA thinks that the changes may be due to Kelly’s strict workout plan and diet while on the international space laboratory.
Scott’s DNA Changed Irreversibly in Space
NASA researchers are also looking for a space gene that may have popped up while Scott was in space. His DNA was changed irreversibly in a proportion of 7%, but researchers couldn’t tell why exactly.
There are some theories about the space influence’s on astronauts’ DNA. For instance, the body is exposed to different rules of physics, which changes it sometimes permanently.
Being oxygen deprived, nutrient changes, microgravity, radiation, and calories restriction can take a heavy toll on astronauts’ health. The NASA astronaut had experienced all these during his 340-day-long orbital trip.
Some of the changes vanished as soon as he returned to Earth, but space’s influence on the human DNA remains a fascinating field of study. Also, NASA plans to learn how exactly space affects the human DNA because it is currently working on a manned mission to Mars.
Image Source: Wikimedia