In March 2015, NASA sent a pair of twins, Scott and Mark Kelly, on a wild mission. Scott got the space ticket, while Mark stayed on planet Earth as a control group by which NASA could measure the extend of the changes Scott endured while off-planet.
Scott Kelly was up in the International Space Station, landing back on Earth one year after going into space. After his return, scientists went Sherlock Holmes on the twin, studying everything from brainpower to his gut. This is what they found.
NASA’s Twin Experiment
NASA spilled the tea that Scott’s chromosome caps, called telomeres, actually got longer while he was in space; a surprising discovery.
Typically, shorter telomeres are linked to getting old, but they returned to normal once he returned to Earth. It’s like some space magic messing with our DNA!
Unraveling Space Secrets
But wait, there’s more cosmic drama. The twins had different gut bacteria, blaming it on their diets and hangouts. Scott’s DNA got some changes, too, with lower methylation levels in his white blood cells, while Mark’s went up.
NASA claimed that some genes therefore behave differently in different environments, as if our bodies are trying to figure out this whole ‘space thing’!
Cosmic Clues in Our Genes
And get this: more than 200,000 RNA molecules were doing their own thing in Scott and Mark, making scientists wonder if there’s a ‘space gene’ that was activated.
As for brainpower, Scott held it down in space, showing that astronauts can stay smart for a long time up there. So, no need to worry about space turning our brains into mush!
Kelly’s Verdict: Mars Mission Possible
Talking about the whole experiment, Scott shared that after doing this experiment and all the studies, nothing can prevent us from going to Mars.
Of course, some things still need investigating, such as gene expression, telomeres, and other problems astronauts have with their vision, which could make traversing Mars that slight bit more difficult!
The James Webb Space Telescope is the largest and most powerful one NASA has ever launched, and it has already suffered massive damage from a larger micrometeorite strike that occurred in May. The telescope was built in collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Canadian Space Agency and is made of precious technology. It also carries the largest mirror ever attached to a space telescope that is meant to allow it to observe events in space that were previously inaccessible to humanity.
NASA Planned for tThe James Webb to Be Hit by Micrometeorites
In order for the James Webb Space Telescope to fulfill its mission, NASA, ESA, and CSA have ensured it will be able to remain operational for years to come. However, concerns were raised over the longevity of the telescope when it was determined that in May 2022, it was hit by a micrometeorite that was larger than most. Fortunately, the operations of the telescope were not affected in a big way, but scientists believe the long-term effects of other such impacts over time make it unpredictable to determine how long it will remain operational.
Because the James Webb is in deep space at one of the stable Lagrange points, any problems that arise due to damage cannot be fixed. This means that the lifetime of the telescope depends on the number of micrometeoroid impacts and the way they degrade the primary mirror.
NASA Says, so far, TJWST Has Been Struck by Micrometeorites Six Times
According to NASA, since its launch, the Telescope has been struck by six micrometeorites. While the first five collisions were with very small micrometeorites that leave a negligible amount of damage, the sixth one caused comparatively more serious damage. According to scientists, it hit segment C3 between the 22nd and 24th of May this year and caused a significant irreparable change in the figure of the segment. Again, according to scientists, the damage to the panel will not impact the telescope’s image-taking abilities at all.
Charged Particles Will Also Degrade the Capability of TJWST Over Time
The scientists at NASA also expect that the telescope’s detectors will be gradually damaged by charged particles that are all over space. While the sun-shield and innovative five-layer insulation will protect the James Webb from space weathering for a long time, its mirror will be exposed to space and will face both charged particles and micrometeoroid strikes head-on.
The nearly 10$ billion space telescope was launched after decades of development on Christmas Day in 2021, and earlier this month, NASA revealed the first images that it captured – stunning viewers from all around the universe.