Originally shared by Rob Jongschaap
NASA's twin astronaut study shows living in space can change our biology
'Scott Kelly spent 340 consecutive days onboard the International Space Station between 2015 and 2016. His brother Mark, also an astronaut at NASA, was during that time retired and stayed put on Earth.
Seeing how the two are both identical twins and astronauts — obviously a rare occurrence — scientists seized the opportunity to study what effects microgravity might have on the astronauts’ biology.
Samples were collected from both twins before, during, and after Scott’s stint at the ISS.
NASA has yet to release the official results but preliminary work published in Nature already found the two twins diverged genetically.
Astronaut twin study hints at stress of space travel : Nature News & Comment
'... From the lengths of the twins’ chromosomes to the microbiomes in their guts, “almost everyone is reporting that we see differences”, says Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City. He and other project scientists reported the early results on 26 January in Galveston, Texas, at a meeting of scientists working in NASA’s Human Research Program. “The data are so fresh that some of them are still coming off the sequencing machines,” Mason says.
The challenge now is to untangle how many of the observed changes are specific to the physical demands of spaceflight — and how many might be simply due to natural variations. And because the Kelly twins are just two people, the results may not be generalizable to others.