Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Twin astronauts to be studied 'as one' in space research
by Jim Algar
Washington DC (UPI) Aug 10, 2013

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

If, as proposed by President Obama, a manned mission is on its way to Mars in the mid-2030s, and if perhaps in the distant future mankind attempts to journey beyond the limits of our solar system, scientist will want to know some answers to a most pressing question: How does long-term exposure to the zero gravity of space affect the human body?

Now NASA is preparing to take advantage of the unique opportunity to study an individual living simultaneously in zero gravity in space and on the surface of the Earth -- a seeming impossibility made possible by the fact the "individual" in this case is in fact two people, identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly.

Beginning in March 2015, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will begin a year-long stint aboard the International Space Station while his genetically identical retired twin Mark will be living at the Arizona home he shares with his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, still recovering from being shot at a Tucson campaign event in January 2011.

The Kellys, the only twins and only siblings to have traveled in space, are both veterans of missions to the ISS and have readily agreed to allow NASA to conduct experiments as each lives at a different end of Earth's "gravity well."

In fact it was their idea, NASA said.

"This opportunity originated at the initiative of the twin astronauts themselves," NASA said in a solicitation for research proposals released last week.

Scott Kelly is a veteran of two space shuttle flights and a six-month space station stint while Mark Kelly has flown four space shuttle missions delivering equipment and crews to the ISS.

Twins have long fascinated scientists, and have often been used in studies on Earth, usually into the "nature verses nurture" question in which twins long separated and living in completely different environments are examined for differences and similarities.

There can be few environments more different than zero gravity aboard the ISS and a home in suburban Tucson, and NASA is eager to have the chance to compare long-term data collected from genetically similar astronauts to observe the human effects of spaceflight.

Because nothing of this kind has been attempted -- or even possible -- before, just what sort of experiments might be conducted has been left open, and NASA has issued a call to the academic and research communities to propose investigations for observational comparison of the brothers during the course of the study.

One tentative plan is for blood sampling on Scott at regular intervals before, during and after the one-year mission on the space station and corresponding blood sampling on Mark, who will be living his normal lifestyle in Arizona, to gauge the effects of the space environment on human DNA.

NASA said it will consider any proposals focusing on analysis of human molecular responses to the physical, physiological and environmental stressors associated with human spaceflight.

The experiments could help determine the role genetics plays in health problems observed in astronauts spending long periods in low gravity, including loss of bone and muscle mass and vision issues, plus an increased risk of cancer from cosmic radiation and sleep problems, the space agency said.

While the NASA call for proposals document goes by the somewhat unwieldy title of Differential Effects on Homozygous Twin Astronauts Associated with Differences in Exposure to Spaceflight Factors, its aim can be simply stated: keeping astronauts safe and healthy as humankind breaks free of the gravitational bonds of Earth and begins journeys to new worlds and beyond.


Related Links
Space Medicine Technology and Systems

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

Alexander's space clinic
Paris (ESA) Jul 31, 2013
They are skills everyone hopes an astronaut never has to use but they are vital for the International Space Station, where no ambulance can reach. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst recently boosted his medical skills in a busy hospital setting. Astronauts spend up to six months on the Space Station working on scientific experiments and maintaining the orbital outpost. They need to be able to h ... read more

NASA Selects Launch Services Contract for OSIRIS-REx Mission

Environmental Controls Move Beyond Earth

Bad night's sleep? The moon could be to blame

Moon Base and Beyond

NASA launches new Russian-language Mars website

Big ice may explain Mars' double-layer craters

Full Curiosity Traverse Passes One-Mile Mark

Curious craters on Mars said result of impacts into ancient ice

College of Law launches doctorate in space law

Study: Teleportation would have a slight time-to-transmit problem

NASA technologist makes traveling to hard-to-reach destinations easier

First Liquid Hydrogen Tank Barrel Segment for SLS Core Completed

China launches three experimental satellites

Medical quarantine over for Shenzhou-10 astronauts

China's astronauts ready for longer missions

Chinese probe reaches record height in space travel

Japanese Cargo Spacecraft Docks with ISS

NASA's Firestation on way to ISS

Weekly recap from the International Space Station expedition lead scientist

NSBRI Wants Ideas To Support Space Crew Health and Performance

Next Ariane 5 is readied to receive its dual-satellite payload

Russia to restart Proton rocket launches after crash

Japanese rocket takes supplies, robot to space station

SpaceX Awarded Launch Reservation Contract for Largest Canadian Space Program

Astronomers Image Lowest-mass Exoplanet Around a Sun-like Star

New Explorer Mission Chooses the 'Just-Right' Orbit

'Blinking' stellar system may yield clues to planet formation

Pulsating star sheds light on exoplanet

New 'weird' material may be new class of solids, researchers say

Large Area Picosecond Photodetectors push timing envelope

Seeing depth through a single lens

Altering organic molecules' interaction with light

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement