Why microgravity is dangerous for astronauts

Why microgravity is dangerous for astronauts

Unlike Earth, in space it will not work just to run on a treadmill. But if you are not going to exercise several hours a day, then you have nothing to do outside of the Earth.

The effects of microgravity are really terrible. Symptoms include decreased bone density, muscle atrophy, flattening of the eyeballs and deterioration of vision, decrease in blood pressure, etc. The more time astronauts spend in space, the more health problems arise.

Now scientists are spending all their strength to study the effects of gravity at the cellular level. For example, the Japanese team uses real-time bone cell imaging from Japanese Medak fish to better understand how the genes (relating to the process of creating bones) behave in weightlessness.

Why microgravity is dangerous for astronauts

Cosmonauts on the ISS constantly have to keep themselves in shape

Other teams focus on studying physical exercises as a method to reduce the negative effects of microgravity. For example, Scott Trapp explores how skeletal muscles adapt to changes in environmental conditions. This is especially important for space flight. The fact is that weightlessness leads to the absence of the usual terrestrial loads, because of which most of the muscles begin to atrophy and lose density. If an astronaut had spent six months in space without doing anything, he could have returned to Earth as an 80-year-old man.

Therefore, NASA representatives contacted Trapp to develop the best exercise program that astronauts can use in outer space to maintain their health.

In 2016, the Trapp Laboratory received a 6-year grant of $ 6.6 million to study how exercise affects the body at the molecular level. The grant is only part of a huge $ 170 million investment from the National Institutes of Health to develop research in exercise physiology.

Why microgravity is dangerous for astronauts

Although the grant and collaboration with NASA are considered different projects, Trapp is convinced that they will allow reaching breakthrough conclusions about what happens to astronauts in space at the genetic level.

For example, NASA has already begun to study what is happening with astronauts at the molecular level. This is due to the astronaut Scott Kelly’s one-year mission on board the International Space Station. Trapp believes that soon it will be possible to achieve significant changes in this topic due to the large amount of biological research and new technologies. Simple research methods include proven genetic testing using blood samples and saliva obtained from astronauts. Trapp Laboratory prefers more advanced techniques, including muscle biopsy samples (removal of a piece of tissue for further study) of the members of the ISS before and after the mission.

Until now, muscle biopsy was mainly used to improve the exercise program, which must be prepared for NASA. But the laboratory will also test crew members as part of the National Institutes of Health program. Trapp hopes that the biopsy will allow much deeper trace the molecular changes arising from the flight into space.

The scientist also believes that the new research will allow to develop special forms of exercises in space that will counteract the negative effects of microgravity on the human body.

Comments (0)