NASA Twins Study Verifies Long-Term Health Effects of Space Travel

NASA’s Twins Study just hit another major milestone. The long-term investigation of Scott Kelly’s health after nearly a year in space shows that the early findings from 2017 were valid — with some new insights into possible health issues for future Mars travelers.

The astronaut spent 340 days on the International Space Station in 2015 to 2016, along with Russian crewmate Mikhail Kornienko. The milestone flight was the longest single flight of any American, providing investigators an opportunity to see how human health changes in nearly a year. 

But there was another advantage to using Scott as a test subject; he has a twin brother, Mark, who flew as an astronaut during the space shuttle program. So while Scott flew on the International Space Station, investigators collected data from him and from Mark, who remained on the ground. [Twins In Space: Astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly in Photos]

“The perfect nature versus nurture study was born,” NASA officials said in a statement.


A year in space is a long time by today’s standards, but investigators are preparing for future flights to Mars. That journey would likely take an astronaut close to three years. Seeing how Scott’s body reacted will provide one data point, but more information on the long-term health effects of space is needed before the journey

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