Author Topic: Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of a year in space  (Read 898 times)

Online blasphemer

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NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space. His recollections of this unprecedented test of human endurance, and the physical toll it took, raise questions about the likelihood of future travel to Mars.

Edited extract from Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly (Doubleday, $35), published on October 19.

Article paints a pretty bad picture about the effects of long term microgravity on people. May not be a showstopper for short Mars missions but I am growing increasingly convinced that a true colonization will simply require natural gravity. Actual colonies with people living on them located on rotating space stations, Moon/Mars/asteroids for industry/science only. Thoughts?
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 07:05 PM by blasphemer »

Offline SweetWater

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Thanks to research like that done by Scott Kelly and other astronauts, we have a pretty good idea of the effects of microgravity on the human body. We also have a pretty good idea of the kind of exercise and drug regimen needed to mitigate the effects of microgravity on bone density and muscle mass in humans. That's not to say those problems have been solved, or that there aren't other issues we are still working through (immune system issues, radiation exposure, vision issues, etc.), but we have a good idea of the challenges faced and are working on ways to resolve them.

One thing that we don't really know - and which, as far as I know, we are just starting to seriously research - is the effects of fractional gravity on humans and other animals. We don't know if the 1/6 gravity of the moon is enough to limit negative effects on the human body, if it is basically the same as being in microgravity, or if  the effects are somewhere between staying in 1g and being in microgravity. Ditto for the 1/3 gravity of Mars.

Dr. Thomas Lang, who works for the University of California, San Francisco, has spent a lot of time studying microgravity and radiation effects on humans and other animals. He was interviewed on the Main Engine Cut Off back in June, and presented a lot of interesting information on this topic. You can find the episode linked here , and it is well worth a listen.

Offline eric z

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 IIRC, Wasn't a JAXA-provided centrifuge part of the plan for ISS? Think of how handy that would be for these kind of studies. I never understood why you spend $100 billion, and don't run this thing 2 or 3 shifts? Don't add the extra stuff that brings in more science... I know, Money, resources, blah-blah woof-woof... Now that we have commercial cargo coming and going, and hopefully soon crew, extend to 2028 and add a inflatable living module and wring all we can out of this thing. I love ISS, but the term "Penny-Wise and Pound-Foolish" comes to mind. ::)
 PS: My wife just asked me why didn't they keep the capability to run around the inside of the hull like they did in "2001"; I mumbled something about...
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 06:53 PM by eric z »

Offline TakeOff

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JAXA developed and built that centrifuge module for the ISS. But it is in a museum in Japan now. The ISS is supposed to be a micro gravity lab, they don't want anything that shakes it. So I wonder why they developed this unused centrifuge. Just wasting money for nothing, as is so very common in space programs. Most of it is just meaningless waste for nothing. Pure corruption, with a lot of incompetence and lack of leadership added. I do understand why the tax paying public in general is very skeptic against space flight. it just wastes money and never gets anywhere.
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 10:21 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline eric z

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 I'm sure Jim or some of the "Freedom" program vets could go into this in detail but I'm pretty sure a separate "free-flyer" module for the superduperdelicate micro gravity experiments was part of the original plan/ideas being proposed back in that endless, endless decade of the 80s [ the one where I fell asleep and woke up to a world of expensive coffee, tattooed-people, Dick-Tracy Phones and disappearing record stores].

Offline john smith 19

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Fora  perspective on this here is Dr James Logan of NASA pointing out some of the hazards of life on Mars

Gravity is an issue. And some of the changes (despite exercise regimes) are irreparable.

Note that a trip to Mars should be in the 90-180 day range.  However if a viable arrangement comes up every 26 months unless everyone spends most of that time on the ground (perhaps with a watch rotating back to orbit?) they will face these issues.

Unless of course 1/3g is not enough to reset the bodies systems back to normal.  :(

[EDIT incidentally the 2016 presentation said Mars entry would be in the 6-8g range, while Earth return reentry more like 2-3g.

Without any kind of on ship artificial gravity this suggests everyone will need to spend a fair amount of time in the gym, as I'm presuming everyone will spend some time on Mars.  ]
« Last Edit: 10/09/2017 05:35 PM by john smith 19 »
"Solids are a branch of fireworks, not rocketry. :-) :-) ", Henry Spencer 1/28/11  Averse to bold? You must be in marketing."It's all in the sequencing" K. Mattingly.  STS-Keeping most of the stakeholders happy most of the time.