Dream of travelling to the moon? You may want to think otherwise because the human body is not designed for space travel, researchers say. Researchers are looking into growing concerns over the long-term health effects space can have on astronauts. According to research, astronauts have returned from space with poorer eyesight, bone and muscle loss, and may be at a greater risk for cancer due to radiation exposure.
Since the first American was launched into space in 1961, there are still many unknowns when it comes to how space affects health, and some problems have only recently been discovered per BUSTLE. With the human body containing about 60 percent water, this can be affected when in space as your fluids float into your chest and head, causing increased pressure and swelling.
Some astronauts have even reported trouble sleeping and eating. In 2009, NASA astronaut and physician Dr. Michael R. Barratt reported having difficulty seeing objects close up while he was on the International Space Station. Another doctor and crew member on board performed an eye exam on Barratt and found his vision shifted towards farsightedness. His eye had become squeezed, with abnormal bends in the optical nerves and blemishes on the retina.
Retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, will aid in a study that monitors the health of his brother and fellow astronaut Scott Kelly when he spends a year on the space station while doctors monitor Mark Kelly’s conditions, who will remain on Earth.
Weightlessness has also been an issue. The body does not need to support weight in zero-gravity, resulting in weaker bones. NASA has given astronauts osteoporosis drugs and encouraged them to use a treadmill, which has remedied the problem. Scientists are continuing to evaluate these issues as they prepare for the possibility of sending astronauts to Mars in the future, where health concerns could be catastrophic since astronauts will need to be more self-sufficient.