Almost a year in space caused an astronaut’s gene expression to change and his immune system to enter high alert, researchers announced on Friday.
Identical twins Mark and Scott Kelly, both US astronauts, are participating in a unique study into the biological toll of space travel on humans.
Led by Cornell Medicine, the study compared data collected from earth-bound Mark and space-bound Scott.
They found that prolonged space presence changed which of Scott’s genes switched on and off. Though Scott’s gene activation pattern mostly regained normalcy back on Earth, 7% of the changes in expression remained when the study ended.
Ahead of new challenges like the Mars missions, NASA directors found the latest findings “encouraging”.
As business ventures enter the fray, both martian exploration and lunar prospecting become more likely.
But what effect will extreme space travel have on the human genome?
Credit for this article's header image goes to NASA.