NASA Sent One Twin Into Space for a Year – This Is What Happened

X (Twitter) // @ThePhySoc

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.

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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!