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Space Changes Astronaut's DNA So He Is No Longer Identical To His Twin

Space Changes Astronaut's DNA So He Is No Longer Identical To His Twin

Anyone who has ever been to space has said that it changed them drastically. And you can understand why - there must be something life-altering about seeing the planet as a tiny insignificant speck in the universe.

However, it turns out that your perspective on your own existence isn't the only thing that changes.

Interestingly, Astronaut Scott Kelly returned back to Planet Earth after a year on the International Space Station and found that his DNA had changed.

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Kelly and his identical twin brother, Mark, were a part of NASA's Twins Study which meant Scott jetting off into the skies for a whole year, while Mark - who is also an astronaut - stayed at home on earth.

During that year tests were performed on both with the intention of gather information "to help scientists compare the effects of space on the body and mind down to the cellular level."


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The preliminary results of this year long experiment that blasted off in 2015 are now out, and they have found that at least seven percent of Scott Kelly's genes have not returned to normal after his mission into Earth's orbit.

This means that he and his identical twin brother are no longer genetically the same.

NASA now thinks that this year long stint in space is a 'stepping stone to a three-year mission to Mars'.

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NASA Reveals How Space Affected Astronaut’s Body Compared To His Earthbound Twin

Once he was back on dry land following his mission, many of the biological changes that he had undergone in space returned back to their pre-space levels very quickly.

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Credit: NASA
Credit: NASA
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NASA Sent One Identical Twin To Space For A Year To See How It'd Change Him

published at4 years ago

Some returned to normal within a few days, and some in as long as up to six months, however, his genes still have not returned to their pre-flight normality.

Scott was up in space for twice the usual length of time that people stay on the ISS. NASA wanted to test whether the longer time in space would affect his abilities and performance in tasks whilst also checking his brother on earth at the same time.

They found that: "Increasing mission duration from the typical six-month ISS mission to one year resulted in no significant decreases in Scott's cognitive performance while inflight and relative to his twin brother Mark on the ground.

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"However, a more pronounced decrease in speed and accuracy was reported postflight, possibly due to re-exposure and adjustment to Earth's gravity, and the busy schedule that enveloped Scott after his mission."

Scott (right) and Mark (left) Kelly. Credit: NASA
Scott (right) and Mark (left) Kelly. Credit: NASA

This research brings us closer to the mission to Mars, but they'd need to be up there for at least three years, so it's a long way off yet.

As for Scott, this was his last mission - he is now officially retired.

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To be fair, where do you go career-wise once you've spent a whole year in space?

Featured Image Credit: NASA

Topics: mars, Twins, Nasa, space, dna

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Tom Wood

Tom Wood is a freelance journalist and LADbible contributor. He graduated from University of London with a BA in Philosophy before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. He has previously written for the M.E.N Group as well as working for several top professional sports clubs. Contact him on [email protected]