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New twin experiment to test effects of space

Posted on Tuesday, 15 April, 2014 | Comment icon 10 comments

One twin will visit the ISS while the other stays on Earth. Image Credit: NASA

NASA is set to conduct an unprecedented new study in to the way space can affect the human body.

It has long been established that spending time in space can cause everything from muscle degradation to psychological problems, but obtaining accurate readings on these effects has proven something of a challenge.

Now the space agency is hoping to learn more about this issue by conducting a new experiment involving two astronauts who also happen to be identical twins. Scott and Mark Kelly will both participate in the study which will see Scott spend a whole year on the International Space Station while his brother stays behind on Earth.

A series of medical checks and tests will be conducted both before and after Scott's tenure in space so that the results from both twins can be compared after the experiment is over.

"For the first time, we'll be able to study two individuals who are genetically identical," said Craig Kundrot of Nasa's Human Research Program.

Source: Wired | Comments (10)

Tags: Twins, Space

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Kiltedmusician on 15 April, 2014, 17:23
So after all that hard work and study, you get to flip a coin to see who goes into space and who stays home because your twin brother wanted to be an astronaut too.
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 April, 2014, 17:26
Not in this case. Scott Kelly's twin, Mark Kelly, WAS also an astronaut, but has now retired. He has been into space. He retired to help support his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was badly injured in an assignation attempt.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Kiltedmusician on 15 April, 2014, 18:09
Hm. That kind of compromises him a little as a "control" in this experiment if he's been to space himself at some point doesn't it?
Comment icon #4 Posted by paperdyer on 15 April, 2014, 18:12
This will be interesting, more on the psychological effects. For this to work, I'd like both brothers would need to do the same routine while "on duty" so job differences can be cancelled out. It's the off time that would tell the tale, IMHO.
Comment icon #5 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 April, 2014, 18:14
Not at all. The experiment is to see what changes occur to a human body during a year long flight. Since both twins are genetically the same, have trained as astronauts and each has flown in space before it makes Mark Kelly the perfect control.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Razer on 16 April, 2014, 0:18
It would be more interesting to me if only one of them ever went up but you take what you can.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 16 April, 2014, 2:28
The whole point of a control is that it should be as close to the experimental subject as possible. Since the experimental subject, Scott Kelly has prior spaceflight experience it would not be possible to exclude the effects of the previous flights from the effects of the one year flight unless the control subject, Mark Kelly also had prior spaceflight experience. The fact that they are similar both genetically and in terms of spaceflight experience is what makes this experiment possible in the first place.
Comment icon #8 Posted by taniwha on 16 April, 2014, 8:50
Maybe the psychological effects of marriage would be just as damning for the earth twin.
Comment icon #9 Posted by smokeycat on 16 April, 2014, 14:30
I had to look her up after you wrote that.
Comment icon #10 Posted by pallidin on 16 April, 2014, 18:33
I think the general premise of the experiment is outstanding.

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