A year in space

Published 7:00 am Friday, January 23, 2015

This week the announcement was made that two men will spend a full year in space as part of a long-term research effort.
One of the men is an American astronaut, Scott Kelly, who has some experience with long-term trips to space. The second man is a cosmonaut.
An interesting aspect of this trip is Kelly has an identical twin scientists can use as a control as they search for any affects long-term missions in space have on the human body.
In space humans are subjected to more radiation, the effects low gravity has on the human body and as his twin Mark put it on discovery.com, “lots of opportunities for genetic material to change and for genes to mutate.”
Crew aboard the International Space Station conduct six-month missions high above the surface of Earth. This will be the first on the ISS to last for a year, although cosmonauts have conducted year-long missions in the past on their own stations.
When they return to the Earth and its gravity, astronauts and cosmonauts undergo rehabilitation to counter the negative side effects of time in space.
The aim of this mission is to gather as much information as possible so scientists and space explorers will have a greater understanding of what life in space is like and how it changes the workings of a complex organism.
However, this experiment fails to test a major aspect of deep space travel, full exposure to the radiation we are currently protected from due to Earth’s magnetic field. Even astronauts on the ISS enjoy protection from that field.
Only astronauts who traveled to the moon were exposed to that kind of environment. Even then, those missions lasted less than two weeks, so there are still many tests to conduct before mankind is completely aware of the dangers we face in deep space. A trip to Mars is estimated to take months, at least.

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