How a trip to space changed the bodies of four civilian crew members

How a trip to space changed the bodies of four civilian crew members
Four civilian team members of the Inspiration4 mission, left to right: Chris Sembroski, Sian Proctor, Jared Isaacman and Haley Arceneaux. Credit: SpaceX/Disclosure.
Diego Robles

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First, let’s talk about that Inspiration4. In 2021, SpaceXElon Musk’s Space Agency, Sent Four civilians board the rocket for a short three-day trip to Earth orbit, called Inspiration4 Mission. It was the first privately funded flight to take civilians off the planet.

Four crew members took off from 39A’s launch complex at 9:03 Kennedy Space Center of NASA In Florida (USA), on September 15, 2021.

Well, now comes the news of this article: scientists from many institutions around the world came together to analyze the data collected from these team members and published. Unprecedented material on how spending time in space can affect human health. This material is a A collection of 44 studies They published and became famous Space Omics and Medical Atlas (Soma), published last Tuesday 11th in the magazine Natural portfolio.

An unprecedented and comprehensive study

Christopher Mason, geneticist Weill Cornell Medicine He has led several studies, although NASA has already studied the health of astronauts in recent years. Private flights allow for a more detailed assessment of risks. That’s what he and other scientists did.

This is the largest publication of biomedical data on astronauts. 30 to 40% of experimental material unpublished: Christopher Mason, the geneticist who led most of the SOMA studies.

The crew members were medically monitored before, during and after the space flight. Using the collected data (molecular, cellular, physiological and phenotypic) and spaceflight data, the researchers performed a series of analyses. Analyzes represent genes, microbes, transcriptomes (messenger RNA) and proteomes (proteins) of people.

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Comparing the distances of objects in different Earth orbits
Comparing the distances of objects in different Earth orbits (i.e. International Space Station – ISS, Inspiration4 mission and Hubble Space Telescope). Credit: Inspiration4/SpaceX Mission/Exposure.

Also, the analysis with the crew of this work is different because The SpaceX rocket orbited the Earth at an altitude of 585 km. is significantly greater than height International Space Station (ISS), which subjects the crew to another, perhaps more intense, radiation environment.

Side effects of space on the human body

In orbit, the crew conducted a battery of scientific experiments that were processed, sequenced and analyzed by scientists. Then found out Five major side effects Observed after civilians returned to Earth. They are: Changes in the transcriptome (complete set of expressed RNA molecules); In the epigenome (synthesis of biochemical signals throughout the genome); In Cellular Dynamics; In microbial activity; Y In mitochondrial responses.

One of the observed effects was that the microbiomes of group members became more similar to each other over time.

It was observed in the group: Loss of muscle mass, biomarkers of aging in their bodies, and inflammation in the skin. The effects are closely related to physical stress resulting from flight. Space planes The immune system can affect the transcription of genes and reduce the body’s ability to defend itself against viruses.

Jared Isaacman (left) and Haley Arceneaux (right) collected health data on the Personal Inspiration4 mission. Credit: Inspiration4/SpaceX Mission/Exposure.

Differences were also observed with respect to gender: The two female group members had their immune systems return to normal faster than the two male group members.

Tejaswini Mishra, Genista de la Stanford Universitycommented that Men and women face different risks in space and recover at different rates After returning to Earth.

Astronauts face health risks in space even on short missions.

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Finally, that is the final message that the SOMA study leaves behind Astronauts face health risks even on short trips to space. The researchers who built SOMA are expanding their studies, examining data from astronauts who traveled to the ISS on the company’s space flights. Axiom Space.

News Notes:

Natural portfolio. “Space Omics and Medical Atlas (SOMA) across orbit”. 2024.

Science. “Astronauts face health risks—even on short trips into space”. 2024.


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