Twin Astronaut Experiment Yields Unexpected Results
Astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days aboard the space station while his identical twin brother remained on Earth.
This extended stint in space gave scientists at NASA a unique opportunity to study what impact space travel has on the human body by comparing the health of both twins before Scott Kelly traveled to the International Space Station and then again after he had came back.
Due to the extra radiation it was expected that spending time in space would have a detrimental effect on his health, but to everyone’s surprise it turned out that one key ageing process actually seemed to have reversed.
The extra radiation that astronauts are exposed to in space was expected to have led to shortening of the telomeres.
The scientists were so surprised that they had sent the samples to another laboratory to double check the results.
A study involving 10 astronauts is now underway in an attempt to work out what happened.
It might have nothing to do with life in space.
Telemores, which are responsible for repairing damaged DNA, get shorter as we age which also reduces their effectiveness and makes us more prone to diseases such as cancer.
Remarkably however, Scott Kelly’s telemores seemed to have actually increased in size relative to those of his brother while he was in space – the total opposite to what would be expected.
However, upon his return to Earth they began to shorten again.
Exactly why this should be the case remains unclear.
Independent UK, Unexplained-mysteries