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Space Science

The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space 267

Posted by Soulskill
from the until-we-reach-starship-enterprise-tech-anyway dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "The human body did not evolve to live in space, and the longest any human has been off Earth is 437 days. Some problems, like the brittling of bone, may have been overcome already. Others have been identified — for example, astronauts have trouble eating and sleeping enough — and NASA is working to understand and solve them. But Kenneth Chang reports in the NY Times that there are some health problems that still elude doctors more than 50 years after the first spaceflight. The biggest hurdle remains radiation. Without the protective cocoon of Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere, astronauts receive substantially higher doses of radiation, heightening the chances that they will die of cancer. Another problem identified just five years ago is that the eyeballs of at least some astronauts became somewhat squashed. 'It is now a recognized occupational hazard of spaceflight,' says Dr. Barratt. 'We uncovered something that has been right under our noses forever.' NASA officials often talk about the 'unknown unknowns,' the unforeseen problems that catch them by surprise. The eye issue caught them by surprise, and they are happy it did not happen in the middle of a mission to Mars. Another problem is the lack of gravity jumbles the body's neurovestibular system (PDF) that tells people which way is up. When returning to the pull of gravity, astronauts can become dizzy, something that Mark Kelly took note of as he piloted the space shuttle to a landing. 'If you tilt your head a little left or right, it feels like you're going end over end.' Beyond the body, there is also the mind. The first six months of Scott Kelly's one-year mission are expected to be no different from his first trip to the space station. Dr. Gary E. Beven, a NASA psychiatrist, says he is interested in whether anything changes in the next six months. 'We're going to be looking for any significant changes in mood, in sleep, in irritability, in cognition.' In a Russian experiment in 2010 and 2011, six men agreed to be sealed up in a mock spaceship simulating a 17-month Mars mission. Four of the six developed disorders, and the crew became less active as the experiment progressed. 'I think that's just an example of what could potentially happen during a Mars mission, but with much greater consequence,' says Dr. Beven. 'Those subtle changes in group cohesion could cause major problems.'"
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The Human Body May Not Be Cut Out For Space

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:09AM (#46098955)

    The solution may be much simpler than thought, Nasa only recruits High performing Individuals these people have a quite well documented need to perform and to be "busy" mentally or physically what they might need is couch potatoes or Mall security guards.

  • wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:13AM (#46098975)

    Millions of years of evolution in an environment with gravity has really screwed up our plans for galactic supremacy.

  • Re:Obvious. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:21AM (#46099015)

    If got had meant us to be in space he would have made us with skin that replaces cells with polarized silicone and given us acid for blood.

    You are just looking for a viable excuse for shooting your mother in law to the moon.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:21AM (#46099017)

    Another problem identified just five years ago is that the eyeballs of at least some astronauts became somewhat squashed. ... 'We uncovered something that has been right under our noses forever.'

    I'm not a doctor, but if your eyeballs have always been under your nose then I suspect you have a pre-existing condition. Don't blame space.

    To be fair, in zero gravity, it's easy to get confused about 'under' and 'over'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:25AM (#46099057)

    "The human body did not evolve to live on ships, and the longest any human has been off Land is 437 days. Some problems, like scurvy, may have been overcome already. Others have been identified -- for example, sailors have trouble eating and sleeping enough -- and people are working to understand and solve them. But Kenneth Chang reports in the NY Times that there are some health problems that still elude doctors more than 5000 years after the first sea voyage. The biggest hurdle remains sea water. Without the protective cocoon of the ships hull and atmosphere, sailors receive substantially lower doses of oxygen, heightening the chances that they will die of suffocation. Another problem identified just five years ago is that the eyeballs of at least some sailors became somewhat squashed when hit by a boom. 'It is now a recognized occupational hazard of sailing,' says Dr. Barratt. 'We uncovered something that has been right under our noses forever.' Officials often talk about the 'unknown unknowns,' the unforeseen problems that catch them by surprise. The eye issue caught them by surprise, and they are happy it did not happen in the middle of a mission to Madagascar. Another problem is the lack of stability jumbles the body's neurovestibular system (PDF) that tells people which way is up. When returning to land, sailors can become dizzy, something that Mark Kelly took note of as he piloted the sailboat to a landing. 'If you tilt your head a little left or right, it feels like you're going end over end.' Beyond the body, there is also the mind. The first six months of Scott Kelly's one-year mission are expected to be no different from his first trip to the open sea. Dr. Gary E. Beven, a NASA psychiatrist, says he is interested in whether anything changes in the next six months. 'We're going to be looking for any significant changes in mood, in sleep, in irritability, in cognition.' In a Russian experiment in 2010 and 2011, six men agreed to be sealed up in a mock submarine simulating a 17-month mission. Four of the six developed disorders, and the crew became less active as the experiment progressed. 'I think that's just an example of what could potentially happen during a submarine mission, but with much greater consequence,' says Dr. Beven. 'Those subtle changes in group cohesion could cause major problems.'"

  • by JustOK (667959) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:40AM (#46099161) Journal
    Phone sanitizers, among some others, seem to be particularly suited this this type of mission
  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @08:46AM (#46099207)

    In other words, they should hire expendable people

    It worked for the security team in Star Trek

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @09:14AM (#46099465)

    Earth is already a spaceship. The problem is, we have no control over where it's going.

    But we found the climate controls! We just argue over how hot to set them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:37AM (#46100129)

    The smaller, cheaper alternative is a tethered design.

    But think of the tethering charges!

  • Re:Roll on! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @10:53AM (#46100237)

    Do you want fiords with that order ?
    Talk to Slartibardfast on Magrathea

    For a more moble solution, try the Fleet Of Worlds made by the Puppeteers

  • by ebh (116526) <ebh-slashdot@hyp ... .org minus berry> on Wednesday January 29, 2014 @11:21AM (#46100463) Journal

    There once was a babe born in space
    The first of the whole human race
    But the kid's DNA
    Looked like bad macrame
    Cos nobody shielded that place

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake

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