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Astronaut Scott Kelly is no longer identical twins: How a year in space has changed his DNA

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Astronaut Scott Kelly demonstrates that the largest obstacle for future Mars travel

Astronaut Scott Kelly talks to Fox News about how the life was during his years in the space and the an obstacle a trip to Mars faces.

In March 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after a historic 340-day stay on the International Space Station, a changed man – his time in a job that had permanently altered part of his DNA.

During his time in the ISS, Scott took part in a study with his twin brother Mark is back on Earth. Scientists have studied the differences between Scott and Mark, who is also an astronaut in the time. The brothers provide blood, saliva and urine samples, underwent ultrasounds and bone scans, got flu shots, and much more, all in the name of science.

Researchers recently confirmed in the study of the preliminary findings, which showed that a part of Scott’s genetic makeup is actually changed during his years on the orbit space lab.

ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY: MY INCREDIBLE YEAR IN SPACE, AND THE ‘CRAZY RIDE’ BACK TO THE EARTH

In particular, scientists noted the presence of the so-called ‘space-gene” Kelly. “Researchers now know that 93 percent of Scott’s genes back to normal after the landing,” the space agency explained in a statement. “However, the remaining 7 percent are of a longer-term change in the genes related to its immune system, DNA repair, the formation of bone-networks, hypoxia, and hypercapnia.”

Identical twin astronauts, Scott and Mark Kelly, who are the subjects of NASA’s Twin Study. Scott (right) spent a year in space while Mark (on the left) remained on Earth as a control subject. Researchers looked at the effects of space travel on the human body.

(Credit: NASA)

Hypoxia refers to oxygen deficiency in the tissues of the body, and can result in damage; hypercapnia is excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream and can be harmful to the respiratory tract.

Scientists noted that the aerospace industry is associated with oxygen deficiency in times of stress, increased inflammation, and the dramatic nutrient shifts, which affect the genes.

ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY: HOW I WENT FROM POOR STUDENT TO STUDENT SPACE STAR

During a recent interview with Fox News, Scott Kelly explained that his microbiome, the bacteria that live in the human body, also changed dramatically during his years in the space. “The mine is totally different than my brother – my, of course, is better than his,” he joked.

Kelly had two stints on the International space station during his space career

(NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The scientists also that there are major changes in the telomeres found at the ends of the chromosomes, in Scott Kelly in the white blood cells.

“The telomeres are the things that are in our chromosomes, which are indications of our physical age, so as we get older, they get shorter to me has a longer in the space,” he told Fox News. “So it was a bit like the fountain of youth – unfortunately, when I came back to the Earth, they went back to where they were.”

ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY RETURNED TO EARTH AFTER A YEAR-LONG MISSION IN SPACE

In their research, the scientists reported that most of Kelly’s telomeres “abbreviated form” within two days after his return to the Earth.

File photo of Scott Kelly during a spacewalk

(NASA)

Like other astronauts, Kelly also had a temporary height gain in the space.

Ten research groups in the USA were involved in the Twins Study. Their findings are very useful for NASA’s Human Research Program, which aims to keep astronauts safe and healthy in space.

ASTRONAUT SCOTT KELLY: I COULD HAVE SPENT LONGER IN SPACE

Organizations that are involved in the Twins Study, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and the University of California.

Kelly’s year in space is an important stepping stone for the longer missions required to reach Mars. The space agency’s goal is to be a manned mission into low orbit around the Red Planet in the 2030s. However, the epic journey could take 2½ years and scientists are excited to a consideration of the possible impact of the long-term missions on astronauts’ body, mind and spirit. Exposure to radiation will also constitute a risk for the astronauts on Mars missions.

The first American to spend 12 consecutive months in a job, Kelly spent a total of 520 days in space during NASA career. He retired from the space agency in 2016.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers

 

 

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