Dr. Erika Harnett
October 22, 2015
The Effects of Space Travel on the Human Body
437 days. That’s the longest any one person has ever been in space during a single trip (“Astronaut/Cosmonaut Statistics” 1). Long exposure to microgravity has been proven to have adverse effects on the human body, and considering that a round trip to mars would take about 600 days for travel alone, there is a lot of studying to be done on the effects of microgravity on the human body and how to counteract these effects.
One major concern of prolonged exposure to microgravity is muscular atrophy. Muscular atrophy is the condition of losing the proteins that make up muscle cells, leading to degradation of muscles (“Muscle Atrophy” 1). This loss of muscle cells happen when muscles are not used, and when an person is in a situation where gravity is not as strong, the muscles that normal hold a person upright are not being worked because they do not have to fight the force of gravity. This effect can take place in as little as a couple of days (“Muscle Atrophy” 1). Data from NASA show that muscle strength and muscle mass shrinked significantly over a six month period on the International Space Station (“Effect of Prolonged Space Flight on Human Skeletal Muscle (Biopsy) - 07.15.15” 1). This effect was still evident even with the subjects doing aerobic exercise five hours a week and resistance exercise three to six days per week. (“Effect of Prolonged Space Flight” 1). This is significant because not only can it lead to difficulties completing tasks in microgravity it also poses a threat to astronauts when returning to earth. When a person reenters the normal gravitational forces their muscles might not be strong enough to hold th...
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...essels leading to a greater risk of coronary heart failure (“The Body in Space 1). This presents an added danger to space travel and eliminates anyone that has a pre-existing heart condition from going to space.
"Astronaut/Cosmonaut Statistics." Astronauts & Cosmonauts. N.p., 23 Oct. 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
Bagley, James R., Kevin A. Murach, and Scott W. Trappe. "Microgravity-Induced Fiber Type Shift in Human Skeletal Muscle." Gravitational and Space Research. N.p., Apr. 2012. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
"The Body in Space." National Space Biomedical Research Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
Crucik, George, MD. "Muscular Atrophy." Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
"Effect of Prolonged Space Flight on Human Skeletal Muscle (Biopsy) - 07.15.15." NASA. NASA, 15 July 2015. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
"Space Bones." NASA. N.p., 1 Oct. 2001. Web. 23 Oct. 2015.
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