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Is astronaut Scott Kelly still has an identical twin after his year in space? Yes, says NASA

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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.

Two years after his historic return from the International Space Station (ISS), astronaut Scott Kelly’s year on the orbit space lab is still a source of fascination.

Recently, attention has been focused on the changes that have occurred in Kelly’s DNA during his time in space and whether its genetic makeup has permanently changed or not. Kelly returned to Earth after his 340-day stay in March 2016, and retired from NASA later that year.

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.

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

Scientists confirmed that the preliminary findings of the Twin Study earlier this year. “Researchers now know that 93 percent of Scott’s genes back to normal after the landing,” said NASA in a statement on Jan. 31. “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)

Scott Kelly himself also talked about the DNA changes during a recent interview with Fox News.

So is he still an identical twin or not? After much media attention that there is a part of Scott Kelly’s DNA has been permanently changed by his years in space, NASA, updated Jan. 31 statement on 15 March.

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

“Mark and Scott Kelly have identical twins; Scott’s DNA does not fundamentally change,” he said. “What the researchers saw changes in gene expression, how your body reacts to your environment. This is likely to be within the range for humans under stress, such as mountain climbing or diving.”

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

(NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA added that the ‘gene expression’ effect was relatively small. “The change is related to only 7 percent of the gene expression that changed during the flight into space that was not returned to preflight after six months on the Earth,” he said in his statement. “This change of the expression of genes is very minimal.”

The astronaut was the first American to spend 12 consecutive months in space when he is done with his epic 340-day stay on the ISS.

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

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.

“We are at the beginning of our understanding of how spaceflight affects the molecular level of the human body,” said NASA, in its updated statement. “The NASA and the other researchers to work together on these studies expect to announce more comprehensive results about the twins studies this summer.”

Kelly served as a Navy fighter pilot and test pilot prior to his selection by NASA in 1996. The Orange, NJ.-native went on a Space Shuttle pilot and commander, and had two stints on the ISS.

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

 

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