NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly's DNA Changed in Space

Federico Mansilla
Marcha 14, 2018

So when Scott Kelly was selected, along with Mikhail Korniyenko, for a special 340-day so-called year-long mission to the International Space Station, HRP was provided with the opportunity to study the medical, psychological and biomedical challenges faced by astronauts during long-duration spaceflight.

Scott Kelly's one-year stint in space is "a stepping stone to a three-year mission to Mars", NASA reported.

Scientists found that Scott Kelly's genetic makeup changed dramatically in the time he was on the International Space Station, with a total of 7 percent of genes remaining changed months after he returned to Earth. And how could it be different since they are monozygotic twins. So they chose to run some tests and compare Scott's DNA to his brother's after spending some time in space, and they were pretty surprised by the results.

Researchers studied Scott in space psychologically and physiologically, comparing his results to those of his Earthbound brother.

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Identical twin astronauts, Scott and Mark Kelly, are subjects of NASA's Twins Study.

The individual studies on the twins will be combined into a summary paper, as detailed in the graphic above.

The research team measured the effects of oxygen deprivation, inflammation, nutrient changes, and of course the genes themselves to see how an extended stay in space affected things. After Scott returned to Earth from his year-long mission, it took his body time to re-adapt to Earth's gravity. When the NASA veteran returned to Earth, researchers immediately noted that he had grown two inches in height. Some of these changes went back to normal within hours of landing on Earth.

The Twins Study Investigators came from around the country to meet and share their final research results at the annual Human Research Program Investigators' Workshop held in Galveston, Texas in January 2018.

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