Scientists at the Northwestern University performed a research on twins Mark and Scott Kelly to see what effects long spaceflights can have on the human body. They discovered that an extensive period spent in space can modify the gut bacteria of the astronauts.
NASA funded ten groups to perform a research on the Kelly twins and find the differences between them. The team of Northwestern University was one of them. They wanted to find out how the astronauts’ bodies behave after prolonged space travel and time spent in microgravity.
The purpose of this research is to know what should expect to happen to astronauts in case they would soon be able to undertake expeditions on Mars.
Fred W. Turek, professor of biology at the Weinberg College of Artsand Sciences, is one of the co-authors of the study. He claimed that his study group noticed certain changes that occur in the bodies of the astronauts during spaceflights, but they get back to normal when they return to Earth.
Martha H. Vitaterna is another co-leader of the study and a professor of neurobiology at the Northwestern University. She stated that they could not know for the moment what these changes in the astronauts’ bodies could mean. Therefore, they did not find out what is the factor that causes the alteration of the gut bacteria.
In their studies, the researchers collaborated with other scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Medical School at Rush University.
Turek agreed that his team should collaborate with all the other groups involved in the study of the twins so that they could take all the information and put it all together. After all, they all have the same purpose, to see what are the effects of expensive spaceflights. They will use the results as a guide in their next space missions, so that they would know exactly how to take care of their astronauts.
Also, their results can be used to improve the life of humans who do not leave Earth. When all ten teams gathered and put together their results, they found out not only different aspects of the physiology of the Kelly teams, but also different aspects of humans who performed space travels compared to humans who did not.
Thus, they would be able to see why the changes occur in spaceflights and know how to use this also in the benefit of the Earth population.
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