US President Barack Obama tweeted Scott Kelly on Twitter shortly after the American astronaut returned from space, having spent nearly a year there.
“Welcome to Earth, @StationCDRKelly!”, The president tweeted. - “Your year in space is vital for future American space travel. I hope that gravity will not stop you! ”.
Today, the president will appear as a guest at Science Presents DNews at 9 pm ET. They are going to talk to the presenter about how Kelly’s critically long stay in space will affect the future of space travel.
NASA and their space station partners sent Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko to 340 days into orbit as an experimental program designed to pave the way for flights to Mars for more than two years.
Both astronauts donated countless blood and urine samples and other medical data before, during and after their flight. So medical researchers can determine how living in microgravity changes the body.
Kelly offers even more data, since he has a twin brother - Mark Kelly, who did not subject himself to the severity of a long-term stay in space. Doctors will sequence the genes of both Kelly brothers, and then look for different markers. “On board the space station, it looks like a simple blood sample. But what you do with the samples you received at home is completely different. We never owned such data, ”said Julie Robinson, station chief scientist.
First of all, it is important for them to find out whether Scott Kelly's genes have changed.
“Everyone is largely born with a set of genes that are already missing when people die.” Your genes mutate for a variety of different reasons, as well as the environment, ”said Scott Kelly's twin, Mark Kelly Discovery News last January.
Understanding how Kelly’s long stay in microgravity influenced his body is crucial for sending future crews to deep space, including Mars. The “back and forth” mission to the Red Planet is expected to take at least two to three years, in accordance with the NASA plan. Before embarking on such long journeys, NASA needs to know what types of biological changes astronauts may undergo.
Upon returning to Kelly on March 2, some changes were immediately noticeable.
Kelly said that his muscles and hip joints hurt. He was tired, and his skin was hypersensitive. Also, for some time he was 2 inches taller than his brother, since the absence of gravity pressed on his body and allowed Scott Kelly to stretch more than on Earth. He lost that extra 2 inches in less than two days after returning. “I'm kind of surprised, because on the physical level I feel worse than last time. This concerns muscle soreness and joint pain, ”Scott Kelly said during his first press conference after returning to Earth.
Astronauts returning from two to three years of space travel may face these factors even at higher extremes.
At the same time, NASA has a lot of data to find out exactly how the body reacts to life in space and solve these problems. Kelly may be on Earth, but many of his samples are in fact still in space. They must be transported back to Earth aboard the SpaceX Dragon robotic capsule when it returns in May.