Being in space is cool. Astronomers get to be a part of something out of the box, making others look up to them for the most crucial information from outer space. However, it is also proven that too long exposure to zero gravity makes it difficult for the human body to thrive in peace. The physical attributes face several changes – primarily decalcification of bones, weakening of the immune system, declination of the core strength in the muscles, the optic nerve swells, and an alteration in the shape of the brain. All of those do not happen simultaneously, and it takes time for space to engulf you in its system. Moving on, here is a detailed overview of the various “effects of space missions on the human body
Effects Of Space Missions On The Human Body – A Study Of The Brain
As per the New England Journal of Medicine’s issue of 2nd November 2017, an astronaut’s brain structure undergoes noticeable changes after a long-duration space flight. Also, the team found that the symptoms of VIIP syndrome can worsen with time, the longer an astronaut spends in outer space. The parts of the brain mostly affected are the parietal and the frontal lobes – altering the regular control movement and higher execution function of the human body.
The study included 16 astronauts with short-term exposure to the space environment and 18 with longer flights (3 months). The team checked the spaces filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at the top of the brain, including other structures at the brain’s center. Also, they did compare the pre and post-flight MRI of the brain.
The comparison showcased a groove in the cortex nearing the top of the brain and a narrowing of the brain’s central sulcus. This was mostly among astronauts part of long-duration flights. Also, there was an upward shift in the brain of these people, and their CSF spaces did narrow down – at the top of the brain.
The VIIP syndrome does have an impactful contribution in the same, resulting from the bodily fluid accumulating toward the head due to long-term exposure to microgravity.
Effects Of Space Missions On The Human Body – The Human Nervous System
While corporations like NASA, Blue Origin, and Space X are trying to work on commercializing space flight, making people a part of space tourism, here are scientists trying to figure out the effects of space on the human body. A research team went on accumulating literary documents of experimental studies performed on astronauts having experience with the outer space environment.
The study’s objective was to find out the neurological effects of space missions on the human body. And if any possible training or therapeutic whereabouts are available that can diminish the long-term effect of exposure to zero gravity outside.
The final results did showcase a comprehensive understanding of the human body’s acute and chronic neurological changes after experiencing space. Hazards like cosmic radiation, microgravity, confinement, hypercapnia, and disrupted circadian rhythms made all the difference.
The people did complain about and went through disturbances of near-field vision, problems in the vestibular system, and an increase in the risk of malignancies and neurodegenerative conditions.
The Healing Pathway
While on one side, it is scientifically proven that exposure to the environment in space makes the human brain and nervous system prone to various changes, there are possible chances of coping up as well.
For conditions with ventricular expansion (where the body fluid drifts upward, affecting the brain) caused by zero gravity, things start to get normal when the crew returns home. Also, the research mentioned that most ventricular changes occur within the first six months in space, hinting at how people can now live in space for longer periods.
Moving on, looking into the crews’ condition detected with “enlarged ventricles,” follow-up MRIs showed a reduced swelling by 55 to 64 percent after seven months post-return. But it took quite a long for them to recover fully. One respondent still showed an enlarged ventricle even after 3 years of return. Thus, the researchers set a benchmark of three years before setting up veteran astronauts for another mission.
With new facts discovered about space and humankind coming up with upgraded relief from various ailments, it is only a matter of time before there will be appropriate substitutes for helping man live in space. Until then, all one has to do is wait.