Author Topic: Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of a year in space  (Read 9413 times)

Offline 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.

http://www.theage.com.au/good-weekend/astronaut-scott-kelly-on-the-devastating-effects-of-a-year-in-space-20170922-gyn9iw.html

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  https://mainenginecutoff.com/podcast/49 , and it is well worth a listen.

Online 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.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centrifuge_Accommodations_Module
« Last Edit: 10/07/2017 10:21 PM by Chris Bergin »

Online 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

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=40464.msg1546539#new

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 »
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C Apply So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline catdlr

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Beyond A Year in Space: Official Trailer

US PBS Stations:

Airing: 11/15/2017 | 0:00:30 | Promotion
Beyond A Year in Space picks up where A Year in Space left off: Scott Kelly’s last day in space and return to Earth. The special also introduces viewers to the next generation of astronauts training to leave Earth’s orbit and travel into deep space. Part 2 will premiere November 2017. Join the conversation #BeyondYearinSpacePBS

WATCH A YEAR IN SPACE
Wed, Nov 15 @ 8:00 PM | Year In Space
Thu, Nov 16 @ 2:30 AM | Year In Space
Sun, Nov 19 @ 12:00 PM | Year In Space

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugl8q8btMAs?t=001

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Hog

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Beyond A Year in Space: Official Trailer

US PBS Stations:

Airing: 11/15/2017 | 0:00:30 | Promotion
Beyond A Year in Space picks up where A Year in Space left off: Scott Kelly’s last day in space and return to Earth. The special also introduces viewers to the next generation of astronauts training to leave Earth’s orbit and travel into deep space. Part 2 will premiere November 2017. Join the conversation #BeyondYearinSpacePBS

WATCH A YEAR IN SPACE
Wed, Nov 15 @ 8:00 PM | Year In Space
Thu, Nov 16 @ 2:30 AM | Year In Space
Sun, Nov 19 @ 12:00 PM | Year In Space

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugl8q8btMAs?t=001



"A Year in Space" is playing right now(0400hrs EST), to be followed at 0500hrs EST by, Beyond a Year in Space on Canadian PBS stations.
Paul

Offline tyrred

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I haven't had the pleasure of reading the book yet. Just wondering if the thread title is justified, as Scott does not seem to be devastated at this point.

Perhaps debilitating would be better description?
« Last Edit: 11/16/2017 08:45 AM by tyrred »

Offline Ronpur50

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It may take a few years to find out if it is "devastating"...as in cancer or how bad his eyes are damaged. 

Offline muomega0

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It may take a few years to find out if it is "devastating"...as in cancer or how bad his eyes are damaged.
As pointed out in "Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of a year in space", a normal mission to ISS lasts five to six months, so scientists have a good deal of data about what happens to the human body in space for that length of time.  Continue R&D to extend the duration of course.

The 'solution' to begin beyond Earth/Lunar orbits is trip times of ~3 months 'to Mars' then either artificial gravity if one is to avoid gravity wells to save costs initially or the perhaps the 1/3 rd gravity of Mars-no 1/6th is not adequate.

The logical path forward is to preposition supplies to lighten the mass on the crew transfer stage (F=ma), which suggests that HSF requires two types of tugs:  1) fast and 2) efficient, likely chemical and electric propulsion, which need demonstrated reliability (Aldrin cycler), with the entire architecture based on 'reuse' as stated in the 2004 VSE without its 3, no 4 flaws introduced by politics.  An electric tug from Earth to lunar is not essential.

A variable gravity facility can be tested and demonstrated at L2 along with the Gateway 'Voyager' along with the GCR protection (L2 provide the proper environment and allows much of the delta V to be recaptured on the journey beyond lunar).   Once demonstrated, it can be transferred (or upgraded) 'to Mars' to allow Exploration of Mars and beyond, acting as a safe haven to surface operations or asteroid ISRU, etc, the exact opposite of a 'Death Star', but with many of the same functions.

The Gateway Voyager can be used as lunar safe haven but its not its real purpose, and  requires three things:
 1- a thorough asteroid survey to find thousands of nearby bodies suitable for astronauts to visit;
 2- extending flight duration and distance capability to ever-increasing ranges out to Mars;
 3- developing better robotic vehicles and tools to enable astronauts to explore an asteroid
     regardless of its size, shape or spin.

NASA has known this economical concept for a long time, but simply cannot shed the wrong architecture to make it happen, as 'mooning' is 'dictated'.

Having multiple LVs including IPs provides redundancy and long term sustainability and launching dirt cheap propellant with common configurations allows for future enhancements to not get stuck with basically the same LVs for decades because of certification.  It lowers launch costs and shifts $ to very challenging work we do not know how to do yet or fit within the budget distribution, although risks can be taken to achieve flags n footprints.

Find Asteriods to get to Mars  8)

Offline Blackstar

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NASA has known this economical concept for a long time

Yeah, yeah, they're wrong and you're right. It's simple and easy and all they have to do is design a giant spinning spacecraft, but they're too dumb to recognize that.





Offline ncb1397

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Scott Kelly is fine. For Mars durations, send people in their 20s or 30s, not 50s.

Online MATTBLAK

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If manned missions beyond Mars occur in future, I imagine that some sort of artificial gravity should become truly necessary.
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Offline ras391

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Do we know if NASA and Russia are planning a new long duration mission?

Offline Blackstar

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Scott Kelly is fine. For Mars durations, send people in their 20s or 30s, not 50s.

20s is too young, not enough training or experience or maturity. 30s is borderline. 40s is the right age.

However, the radiation standards actually work in the opposite direction due to statistics--older people have fewer years to live, which lowers their statistical likelihood of getting cancer.

Online zubenelgenubi

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Do we know if NASA and Russia are planning a new long duration mission?

How is Peggy Whitson faring after her return from ISS last September?  Her long-duration mission was over 9 months long.
Support your local planetarium!

Offline Jorge

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<delurk>
1) Scott Kelly's spaceflight is tied for fifth place for longest duration, with his crewmate Mikhail Kornienko. Four Russians have previously made longer spaceflights, between 1987 and 1998. They are all still alive. However "devastating" the effects of a year-long LEO spaceflight are, they apparently aren't bad enough to kill you within 20-30 years. Beyond-LEO radiation may be another story, but that's not what this article was about.
2) ISS centrifuge was designed for small mammals at most, not humans. Would have been only of indirect use to the human research program, and would have been expensive to get it to work without excessive vibration loads on the rest of ISS. Cancellation was the right call, IMO.
<lurk>
« Last Edit: 11/20/2017 11:34 PM by Jorge »
JRF

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Peggy Whitson should be called 'The Iron Lady' now that Maggie Thatcher has been gone a few years ;)  With probably a bit more reason, too. She already has the nickname 'Astronaut Ninja'.
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Offline savuporo

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2) ISS centrifuge was designed for small mammals at most, not humans. Would have been only of indirect use to the human research program, and would have been expensive to get it to work without excessive vibration loads on the rest of ISS. Cancellation was the right call, IMO.
<lurk>

I still don't get why there aren't ISS co-orbiting experiments. There is enough logistical capacity to support such.
Orion - the first and only manned not-too-deep-space craft

Offline mike robel

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Possibly the real reason:  Money.

A conspiratorial reason:  The Zero-G scientists don't want to research artificial gravity because it will put them all out of jobs.  :)

Offline Jorge

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Possibly the real reason:  Money.

It's always about the money, even when it's "not about the money." Especially when it's "not about the money."
JRF

Offline vapour_nudge

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<delurk>
1) Scott Kelly's spaceflight is tied for fifth place for longest duration, with his crewmate Mikhail Kornienko. Four Russians have previously made longer spaceflights, between 1987 and 1998. They are all still alive. However "devastating" the effects of a year-long LEO spaceflight are, they apparently aren't bad enough to kill you within 20-30 years. Beyond-LEO radiation may be another story, but that's not what this article was about.
2) ISS centrifuge was designed for small mammals at most, not humans. Would have been only of indirect use to the human research program, and would have been expensive to get it to work without excessive vibration loads on the rest of ISS. Cancellation was the right call, IMO.
<lurk>
Should the thread title be modified to "'Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of 11 months & 3 days in space" ? 😉
« Last Edit: 11/21/2017 06:37 AM by vapour_nudge »

Offline ncb1397

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Do we know if NASA and Russia are planning a new long duration mission?

Not until Commercial Crew vehicles show up...

Quote
HOUSTON—There is a strong desire within NASA’s human research community to launch more U.S. astronauts on “one-year” International Space Station missions. But more of the potentially record-setting flights—intended to reveal physical and psychological challenges associated with the agency’s human deep space exploration aspirations—are not planned until commercial crew operations are ...
http://aviationweek.com/space/more-yearlong-iss-missions-await-nasa-commercial-crew-ops

Article doesn't go into much detail about why this is the case. But you can guess that NASA doesn't want long duration crew members return to earth to be delayed in an uncontrolled manner by glitches with brand new vehicles.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2017 09:23 PM by ncb1397 »

Offline deruch

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With Cygnus' recent use for experiments post-ISS (Saffire) and the recent testing with Tangolab while berthed to station, it might be possible to send a Cygnus up fitted out with an experimental centrifuge apparatus inside.  It could berth to the station, have the astronauts prepare the experiment, then be unberthed and run the centrifuge as a free flying lab for a week or more.  Then, it could reberth to the station for experiment resets and maintenance.  Some shortish periods of microgravity while attached to station could possibly be a benefit as it would likely be a better model for any actual expected use of artificial gravity for humans.  But the capability to berth/unberth/reberth would be a major advantage as it would ensure adjustments and modifications were possible.  If the centrifuge was either small enough to fit through the Cygnus's hatch or able to be disassembled, then the whole contraption could be off loaded onto the station for storage between experiment runs on different Cygnus vehicles.  Cygnus could still be useful as a cargo delivery system (though maybe less lifting capability to allow enough propellant for multiple free flyer runs) with the apparatus being onloaded only once it was empty, etc.  The only thing the station would lose in that case would be the trash storage space of an empty Cygnus.
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Offline Star One

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NASA study reveals 7 percent of astronaut's genes changed after year in space

Quote
NASA took advantage of the unique opportunity of having a set of twin brothers as astronauts by studying each to take a closer look at the effects on the human body after spending a year in space.

For those in the dark on the U.S. space agency's study, astronaut Scott Kelly and his twin brother, Mark Kelly, took part in NASA's "Twin Study." The study looked at what a year in space did to Scott Kelly while Mark Kelly spent the year on Earth.

"By measuring large numbers of metabolites, cytokines, and proteins, researchers learned that spaceflight is associated with oxygen deprivation stress, increased inflammation, and dramatic nutrient shifts that affect gene expression," NASA reports in its preliminary findings.

"After returning to Earth, Scott started the process of readapting to Earth's gravity. Most of the biological changes he experienced in space quickly returned to nearly his preflight status. Some changes returned to baseline within hours or days of landing, while a few persisted after six months."

http://www.mlive.com/news/us-world/index.ssf/2018/03/nasas_twin_study_altered_dna.html

Online mikelepage

When I was at IAC 2017 in Adelaide, I attended the microgravity research symposium among others.  Very interesting sessions.

One thing I feel its worth pointing out that the general consensus of the NASA, ESA and Russian researchers there was that some form of spin gravity will be required in the future for long duration (>3 year) manned missions.  They may not have a lot of sway to influence the HSF programs yet, but I am fairly sure it will happen eventually. 

Why do many biologists seem to hold this view in spite of the relatively quick recoveries of long-duration astronaut stays in space? The reason for this in my opinion is because of an understanding of the way biological systems respond to stress.  Biological systems are (generally) heavily redundant, and if some fundamental process needs to happen, but cannot occur using the usual pathway (e.g. because a gravity induced osmotic-gradient is missing), some other process can be hijacked to take the load.  But these backup processes are not adapted for these tasks, so this alternate process results accumulative inefficiencies that lead to  thresholds beyond which they break down.

Sleep deprivation may be a good analogy here (different time-scales obviously).  We can all go without sleep if we need to.  We do not understand all the processes that occur during sleep, but there are obvious, accumulative changes that occur the longer it continues.  We also know that even a little sleep can go a long way to "recharging the batteries" so to speak.

We do know that many biological processes make use of gravitational potential energy to achieve certain tasks, but that in the absence of gravity at least some of these tasks can still be achieved.  But because these are non-standard processes, we assert there must be some threshold, somewhere beyond the 438 days that Valeri Polyakov achieve, where those processes will break down. 

Ergo, we need spin-gravity.  And if it is as big an engineering challenge as they say, we should get started on it.

Offline woods170

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When I was at IAC 2017 in Adelaide, I attended the microgravity research symposium among others.  Very interesting sessions.

One thing I feel its worth pointing out that the general consensus of the NASA, ESA and Russian researchers there was that some form of spin gravity will be required in the future for long duration (>3 year) manned missions.  They may not have a lot of sway to influence the HSF programs yet, but I am fairly sure it will happen eventually. 

Why do many biologists seem to hold this view in spite of the relatively quick recoveries of long-duration astronaut stays in space? The reason for this in my opinion is because of an understanding of the way biological systems respond to stress.  Biological systems are (generally) heavily redundant, and if some fundamental process needs to happen, but cannot occur using the usual pathway (e.g. because a gravity induced osmotic-gradient is missing), some other process can be hijacked to take the load.  But these backup processes are not adapted for these tasks, so this alternate process results accumulative inefficiencies that lead to  thresholds beyond which they break down.

Sleep deprivation may be a good analogy here (different time-scales obviously).  We can all go without sleep if we need to.  We do not understand all the processes that occur during sleep, but there are obvious, accumulative changes that occur the longer it continues.  We also know that even a little sleep can go a long way to "recharging the batteries" so to speak.

We do know that many biological processes make use of gravitational potential energy to achieve certain tasks, but that in the absence of gravity at least some of these tasks can still be achieved.  But because these are non-standard processes, we assert there must be some threshold, somewhere beyond the 438 days that Valeri Polyakov achieve, where those processes will break down. 

Ergo, we need spin-gravity.  And if it is as big an engineering challenge as they say, we should get started on it.

It is not a big engineering challenge. Up to now there was just no need for it. But spin-gravity systems are a well understood technology, as is the required rotary-seal technology.
What you don't want is NASA to develop it all on its own, because they will simply be reinventing the wheel, with all the unnecessary associated costs. Just let NASA set high-level requirements and let the industry specialists come up with fitting solutions.
« Last Edit: 03/15/2018 08:26 AM by woods170 »

Offline speedevil

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Should the thread title be modified to "'Astronaut Scott Kelly on the devastating effects of 11 months & 3 days in space" ? 😉
"and return to a 1G environment".

Offline Lar

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Pedantry noted but I think the title of the thread is taken from the title of an external article.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
"We're a little bit like the dog who caught the bus" - Musk after CRS-8 S1 successfully landed on ASDS OCISLY

Offline kch

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Pedantry noted but I think the title of the thread is taken from the title of an external article.

Exactly so:

Quote
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.

http://www.theage.com.au/good-weekend/astronaut-scott-kelly-on-the-devastating-effects-of-a-year-in-space-20170922-gyn9iw.html

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?

Offline Negan

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Possibly the real reason:  Money.

A conspiratorial reason:  The Zero-G scientists don't want to research artificial gravity because it will put them all out of jobs.  :)

BFS/BFR, if it lives up to its expectations, could be a real test to see there's any truth to this. Low cost LEO AG experiments could surely be done utilizing BFS.

Offline speedevil

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BFS/BFR, if it lives up to its expectations, could be a real test to see there's any truth to this. Low cost LEO AG experiments could surely be done utilizing BFS.
And lowish cost lunar.

Offline Star One

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This is related.

UNH Researchers Find Space Radiation is Increasingly More Hazardous

https://www.unh.edu/unhtoday/news/release/2018/03/15/unh-researchers-find-space-radiation-increasingly-more-hazardous

Offline Coastal Ron

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Possibly the real reason:  Money.

It's always about the money, even when it's "not about the money." Especially when it's "not about the money."

I would say there is more money in artificial gravity space stations than there are in zero-G space stations. Especially after these revelations...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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I note with some bemusement that mainstream media is trying to say that the Kelly brother's DNA no longer matches after the long duration flight. I'm no biologist or geneticist, but I would have thought that actually isn't possible?! I mean; it's not like he's been exposed to huge levels of gamma radiation and is going to Hulk-out at any moment...
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Offline QuantumG

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Yeah, it's terrible reporting. Molecular biologists are rolling their eyes pretty hard.

Jeff Bezos has billions to spend on rockets and can go at whatever pace he likes! Wow! What pace is he going at? Well... have you heard of Zeno's paradox?

Offline Kansan52

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I note with some bemusement that mainstream media is trying to say that the Kelly brother's DNA no longer matches after the long duration flight. I'm no biologist or geneticist, but I would have thought that actually isn't possible?! I mean; it's not like he's been exposed to huge levels of gamma radiation and is going to Hulk-out at any moment...

Good point. I hadn't listened much to the hype but what is the typical difference between twins?

Plus, the articles I have read seem to blame any changes to stresses in microgravity, not radiation.

Online MATTBLAK

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I note with some bemusement that mainstream media is trying to say that the Kelly brother's DNA no longer matches after the long duration flight. I'm no biologist or geneticist, but I would have thought that actually isn't possible?! I mean; it's not like he's been exposed to huge levels of gamma radiation and is going to Hulk-out at any moment...
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/scott-kelly-astronaut-space-station-dna-health-science/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=link_fb20180315news-scottkellydna&utm_campaign=Content&sf184682126=1
"Those who can't, Blog".   'Space Cadets' of the World - Let us UNITE!! (crickets chirping)

Offline Coastal Ron

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I note with some bemusement that mainstream media is trying to say that the Kelly brother's DNA no longer matches after the long duration flight. I'm no biologist or geneticist, but I would have thought that actually isn't possible?! I mean; it's not like he's been exposed to huge levels of gamma radiation and is going to Hulk-out at any moment...

No "mainstream media" is not to blame:

No, space did not permanently alter 7 percent of Scott Kelly’s DNA - The Verge

Don't paint all media the same.

As to the topic at hand, a relevant quote:
Quote
Scientists studying Scott found that much of his gene expression changed while in space, and about 93 percent of his expression levels went back to normal when he got home. However, 7 percent of his genes related to the immune system, DNA repair, bone formation, and more were still a little out of whack when he returned. These genes are referred to as the “space genes,” according to NASA.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline Eric Hedman

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I note with some bemusement that mainstream media is trying to say that the Kelly brother's DNA no longer matches after the long duration flight. I'm no biologist or geneticist, but I would have thought that actually isn't possible?! I mean; it's not like he's been exposed to huge levels of gamma radiation and is going to Hulk-out at any moment...

No "mainstream media" is not to blame:

No, space did not permanently alter 7 percent of Scott Kelly’s DNA - The Verge

Don't paint all media the same.

As to the topic at hand, a relevant quote:
Quote
Scientists studying Scott found that much of his gene expression changed while in space, and about 93 percent of his expression levels went back to normal when he got home. However, 7 percent of his genes related to the immune system, DNA repair, bone formation, and more were still a little out of whack when he returned. These genes are referred to as the “space genes,” according to NASA.
Most of the media is severely limited in their understanding of scientific and technical topics.  That is why I go to sites that tend to understand these topics.  You won't find stories on spaceflight written with the expertise of NSF writers in the large media outlets like the NY Times or the Washington Post.  I don't expect them to have any better understand of other branches in science or technology.

My local paper, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (now part of USA Today), has quoted me three times and got it wrong every time.  A couple of my friends from high school have become politicians and they tell me it happens to them more often than not.  I don't expect the media to be that accurate or care about details they don't understand.  I know of too many instances where they are sloppy.
« Last Edit: 03/16/2018 04:39 AM by Eric Hedman »

Offline woods170

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Yeah, it's terrible reporting. Molecular biologists are rolling their eyes pretty hard.



Not just molecular biologists.

Offline Svetoslav

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Well... some of us :)

Offline eeergo

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Key context are these two sentences:

Quote
“Nonetheless, this number is likely within the range for humans under stress, such as climbing a mountain, or SCUBA diving.”
Indeed, seeing such changes in expression is not at all unusual—it happens each time we get sick, or in response to environmental factors.

That is, probably has not much to do with "space" anyway. This is not just a problem of media sloppiness (although, admittedly, it is in large part), but also of "spin" (i.e. exaggerated press releases to increase the "wow-factor" -- and hopefully get more funding).

Based on the derived articles I would say, not being anything resembling an expert in human health, that the most interesting conclusion is:

Quote
Kelly’s chromosomes grew longer while he was in space, at least in his white blood cells. The changes occurred in what’s known as the telomere, a cap of genetic material that sits at the end of each chromosome.

Normally, telomeres shrink with age, the idea being that each time a chromosome is copied during cell division, the process chips away at that cap. Shortened or frayed telomeres are largely thought to be responsible for age-related cellular breakdown. But Kelly’s telomeres elongated in space … and then quickly shrank to their original lengths after he returned to Earth.
« Last Edit: 03/16/2018 09:15 AM by eeergo »
-DaviD-

Offline Lampyridae

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Key context are these two sentences:

Quote
“Nonetheless, this number is likely within the range for humans under stress, such as climbing a mountain, or SCUBA diving.”
Indeed, seeing such changes in expression is not at all unusual—it happens each time we get sick, or in response to environmental factors.

That is, probably has not much to do with "space" anyway. This is not just a problem of media sloppiness (although, admittedly, it is in large part), but also of "spin" (i.e. exaggerated press releases to increase the "wow-factor" -- and hopefully get more funding).

Based on the derived articles I would say, not being anything resembling an expert in human health, that the most interesting conclusion is:

Quote
Kelly’s chromosomes grew longer while he was in space, at least in his white blood cells. The changes occurred in what’s known as the telomere, a cap of genetic material that sits at the end of each chromosome.

Normally, telomeres shrink with age, the idea being that each time a chromosome is copied during cell division, the process chips away at that cap. Shortened or frayed telomeres are largely thought to be responsible for age-related cellular breakdown. But Kelly’s telomeres elongated in space … and then quickly shrank to their original lengths after he returned to Earth.

An interesting discovery, but I doubt it's going to have a net positive impact on lifespan considering all the other genetic-level mayhem that's going on in zero-g.

However, some people* are definitely going to think this means zero gravity reverses the aging process. When the cost for tourism comes down enough, I'll bet a lot of people will be going up for the "rejuvenating" benefit in addition to the gee whiz of just being in space.

*ie people like Jim Carrey  ::)
« Last Edit: 03/16/2018 09:49 AM by Lampyridae »
SKYLON... The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen's preferred surface-to-orbit conveyance.

Offline eeergo

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An interesting discovery, but I doubt it's going to have a net positive impact on lifespan considering all the other genetic-level mayhem that's going on in zero-g.

However, some people* are definitely going to think this means zero gravity reverses the aging process. When the cost for tourism comes down enough, I'll bet a lot of people will be going up for the "rejuvenating" benefit in addition to the gee whiz of just being in space.

*ie people like Jim Carrey  ::)

Again, I'm not an expert, but what genetic mayhem? Apart from cumulative radiation exposure (which may or may not have an impact on lifespan, within astronauts' occupational exposures), it seems from the above study not much genetic mayhem is happening at all, at least outside of what you'd expect from not-so-unusual activities on the ground.

Not arguing there will be a positive impact (and indeed, the telomer lengthening, by itself, probably won't be as beneficial as a naïve look at it may make it appear, and could even be counter-intuitively harmful) -- but for now, genetic effects due to exposure to space don't appear so dire.
-DaviD-

Offline MP99



because they will simply be reinventing the wheel...

: -)

Cheers, Martin

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