NASA's Twins Study Lays Groundwork for Deep Space

Apparently a year in space causes significant changes to the human body. The good news, according to NASA, your body will normalize within months of returning to Earth.

That's the conclusion of a years-long study of twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly which revealed significant physical and genetic changes between the two after Scott Kelly spent a year onboard the International Space Station.

“We're looking at genetics, genomics, epigenomics, cognition, telomeres, physiology, all of these things for the first time,” says Dr. Steven Platts, head of NASA's Human Research Program. "Not only are they showing us new things, but they're reinforcing things that we already knew."

While Scott Kelly played down his role in the study, brother Mark was quick to praise him.

“It was a tremendous act of public service to be willing to put yourself through this for a year, without really knowing what the impact on his own body was going to be,” he said during a teleconference Thursday.

Scientists say radiation still poses the biggest threat to long-range missions to Mars. However, the Twins Study was a positive step toward preparing astronauts.

“Long-term, about six months, we don't see a change in those categories of genes, and we think this is pretty good indicator of your genomic and epigenomic health,” said Dr. Andrew Feinberg at Johns Hopkins University.

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