As the likes of China and NASA look to put the first people on Mars in the coming decades, the space agencies may be forced to reevaluate their strategy after latest research found just how much space travel takes its toll on the human body. The latest study analyses how zero-gravity effects the body, specifically blood flow. Without the use of gravity helping the heart in pumping blood around the body, astronauts are exposed to a plethora of health issues.
According to the research published in the journal JAMA Network Open, space travellers are at an increased risk of strokes, blood clots, decrease in plasma volume – which makes up 55 percent of blood and contains water, salts, enzymes, antibodies and other proteins – and even backwards blood flow.
The international collaboration of researchers said the main issues came within the internal jugular vein (IJV), which runs down the neck from the brain.
A study of 11 astronauts found six of them had developed stagnant or backwards blood flow in thew IJV after spending just 50 days on the International Space Station (ISS).
With a trip to Mars likely to take at least seven months, experts may be forced to reanalyse the mission before astronauts are sent on their way.
The team said in their research paper: “Exposure to a weightless environment during spaceflight results in a chronic headward blood and tissue fluid shift compared with the upright posture on Earth, with unknown consequences to cerebral venous outflow.
“Headward fluid shifts during prolonged weightlessness result in facial puffiness, decreased leg volume, increased stroke volume, and decreased plasma volume.
“[These] are novel findings that may have significant human health implications for civilian spaceflight as well as future exploration-class missions, such as a mission to Mars.”
Before NASA gets to Mars, it first has to return to the Moon.
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And Mr Bridenstine Bridenstine has said that the first people to get to Mars could be women.
After the first all-female spacewalk took place outside of the ISS on October 19, Mr Bridenstine praised the role women have had in the space.
After the historic mission Mr Bridenstine said: “We could very well see the first person on Mars be a woman.
“I think that could very well be a milestone. If my 11-year-old daughter has her way, we’ll have a woman on Mars in the not-too-distant future.”