Astronaut Christina Koch’s 328 Days in Space Are Helping Us Better Prepare for a Trip to Mars
Most people will spend each second of their lives on Earth. The closest we get to leaving our dwelling planet is leaping in a aircraft and flying mere hundreds of ft above the floor.
Meanwhile, NASA astronaut Christina Koch simply stepped again onto the planet after 328 days on the International Space Station, breaking the report for longest continuous spaceflight for a lady throughout her ISS residency.
“After 328 days in space, the first six days back on Earth were full of just as much wonder and excitement,” Koch stated in a press convention Thursday.
Koch landed in Kazakhstan on Feb. 6 with European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russian cosmonaut Alexader Skvortskov. During her time on the ISS, Koch participated in a variety of experiments, and even took time to reply a few questions from Earth. But maybe certainly one of Koch’s most most essential contributions was that she herself was the topic of examine whereas in area.
As NASA gears up for the following technology of lunar and, ultimately, Mars-bound missions, learning how microgravity impacts the physique shall be essential as longer spaceflights turn out to be the norm.
From earlier analysis on astronauts, scientists know that microgravity impacts our our bodies in other ways. For instance, analysis launched in 2018 confirmed that prolonged stays in area may cause farsightedness and swelling of the optic nerve. But how a lot anybody particular person is affected varies, due in half to their weight.
Luckily for Koch, her journey again to Earth hasn’t included any main well being considerations to this point.
“I feel great,” Koch stated about six days after her return to Earth. She talked about her steadiness was off for a couple of minutes and that a few of her muscle tissue ached, however that’s to be anticipated upon returning to Earth’s gravity. But total, she described it as a “pretty easy transition back.”
But this does not occur to everybody. In 2016, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth after 340 days on the ISS. When he first got here again, he ceaselessly talked about how he had points with swollen legs and strolling.
Scott, alongside along with his an identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, have been the themes of a examine as Scott spent a yr in area and Mark continued dwelling on Earth. Because of their practically an identical genes, the twins have been completely suited for a examine concerning the results of microgravity.
Mark and Scott Kelly (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)
When Scott Kelly got here again from his yr in area in 2016, he was 2 inches taller than when he left, a widespread impact of dwelling in freefall for prolonged durations of time. Scientists additionally discovered microgravity can injury DNA, thicken artery partitions and alter the microbiome from their analysis on the Kelly brothers.
Research and scientific particulars about how the near-year of microgravity affected Koch usually are not but accessible, however NASA intends to use her prolonged keep as a method to observe whether or not extended spaceflight will have an effect on girls in another way than their male counterparts.
In the upcoming Artemis missions, NASA shall be sending the primary lady and subsequent man to the moon. Extended missions to the deliberate lunar orbiting area station, Gateway, will see each female and male astronauts in area for longer durations of time, and complete research of each women and men in microgravity conditions shall be essential for future exploration.
For now, Koch appears to be having fun with her time again on Spaceship Earth. She revealed throughout the press convention that she was excited to see her canine, a rescue she calls LBD, or “Little Brown Dog.” She’s additionally taken a journey to the seaside together with her household and buddies.
This time, when she noticed the ocean, she wasn’t floating above it 200 miles away in area.