[메디컬리포트=Oliver Smith 기자]
Photo: NASA/Robert Markowitz
Researchers studying the effects of space travel on the human body are looking closely at Scott and Mark Kelly, twins who spent a year in outer space.
Scott Kelly's year in space affected his body in nuanced but possibly meaningful ways, according to new research.Scott Kelly flew with Mikhail Komienko for the first yearlong mission ever conducted at the International Space Station. The purpose of the project, which is now in the data-analysis phase, is to take stock of the psychological and physiological effects of longterm space deployment.This helps NASA better prepare for crewed ventures to Mars and other destinations.
Scott's twin brother, Mark, provides insight into this project for a variety of reasons.
For one, Scott and Mark are identical both phenotypically and genetically, so he serves as an extra opportunity to see what different experiences do to the same body.
He also presents different experiences, since he did not fly the same mission with his brother, but rather, flew four other missions independent of his brother.
This makes Mark an experimental control for Scott, allowing researchers to use him as a gauge for the genetic changes they see in Scott.
Telomeres are part of the mechanism that protects chromosomes from deteriorating, and they shorten gradually as people get older.Scott's and Mark's telomeres should be identical without the variable of space travel, but Scott's have lengthened, which NASA officials write "could be linked to increased exercise and reduced caloric intake during the mission. However, upon his return to Earth, they began to shorten again.Interestingly, telomerase activity (the enzyme that repairs the telomeres and lengthens them) increased in both twins in November, which may be related to a significant stressful family event happening around that time."[메디컬리포트=Oliver Smith 기자]