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Astronaut Scott Kelly Describes One Year In Space -- And Its After Effects (brisbanetimes.com.au) 200

53-year-old astronaut Scott Kelly shared a dramatic excerpt from his new book Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery in the Brisbane Times, describing his first 48 hours back on earth and what he'd learned on the mission: I push back from the table and struggle to stand up, feeling like a very old man getting out of a recliner... I make it to my bedroom without incident and close the door behind me. Every part of my body hurts. All my joints and all of my muscles are protesting the crushing pressure of gravity. I'm also nauseated, though I haven't thrown up... When I'm finally vertical, the pain in my legs is awful, and on top of that pain I feel a sensation that's even more alarming: it feels as though all the blood in my body is rushing to my legs, like the sensation of the blood rushing to your head when you do a handstand, but in reverse. I can feel the tissue in my legs swelling... Normally if I woke up feeling like this, I would go to the emergency room. But no one at the hospital will have seen symptoms of having been in space for a year...

Our space agencies won't be able to push out farther into space, to a destination like Mars, until we can learn more about how to strengthen the weakest links in the chain that make space flight possible: the human body and mind... [V]ery little is known about what occurs after month six. The symptoms may get precipitously worse in the ninth month, for instance, or they may level off. We don't know, and there is only one way to find out... On my previous flight to the space station, a mission of 159 days, I lost bone mass, my muscles atrophied, and my blood redistributed itself in my body, which strained and shrank the walls of my heart. More troubling, I experienced problems with my vision, as many other astronauts had. I had been exposed to more than 30 times the radiation of a person on Earth, equivalent to about 10 chest X-rays every day. This exposure would increase my risk of a fatal cancer for the rest of my life.

Kelly says the Space Station crew performed more than 400 experiments, though about 25% of his time went to tracking his own health. "If we could learn how to counteract the devastating impact of bone loss in microgravity, the solutions could well be applied to osteoporosis and other bone diseases. If we could learn how to keep our hearts healthy in space, that knowledge could be useful on Earth." Kelly says he felt better a few months after returning to earth, adding "It's gratifying to see how curious people are about my mission, how much children instinctively feel the excitement and wonder of space flight, and how many people think, as I do, that Mars is the next step... I know now that if we decide to do it, we can."

Astronaut Scott Kelly Describes One Year In Space -- And Its After Effects

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  • help! i've fallen and i can't get up!
    • by Hylandr ( 813770 )

      Also this,

      Stop sending senior citizens into space.

      Wtf right?

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      Shouldn't it be more like "Help! I've fallen and I can't stop floating!"
      • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        Shouldn't it be more like "Help! I've fallen and I can't stop floating!"

        Mars has gravity -- at an acceleration rate of 3.711 meters per second squared, compare that to 9.8 m/s squared on Earth. So you will still fall down on Mars. Thanks for playing, though.

  • by oldgraybeard ( 2939809 ) on Sunday October 08, 2017 @06:48PM (#55332793)
    It is possible that the first several generates to go in to space will never be able to come back to earth.
    • by turp182 ( 1020263 ) on Monday October 09, 2017 @07:26AM (#55334733) Journal

      A couple of Nat Geo issues ago there was an article where a scientist said, due to lower gravity on Mars, we would become taller with more thin arms and legs, after only a couple of generations (maybe a single one if born there). Due to the lower gravity.

      It would seem someone BORN on Earth would probably suffer health problems on Mars (given what zero gravity does, it isn't hard to conclude that lower gravity would cause issues), it would be interesting to see someone BORN on Mars grow up though.

      Nat Geo's website sucks, I couldn't find the relevant info (my goodness, it's all about the TV channel). It was interesting.

  • It's after effects? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by boudie2 ( 1134233 ) on Sunday October 08, 2017 @07:03PM (#55332825)
    You mean shrinkage?
  • by aberglas ( 991072 )

    Not hard to produce gravity. And you can still have a weightless bit in the middle for fun.

    That said, astronauts are obsolete technology. Robots can do it cheaper and better.

    • This has been known forever, but is hideously expensive and complex as compared to a non-spinning solution.

      Take two ISS modules, put them on a tether and spin, what could be cheaper? Nothing... until you have an operational snafu that destroys the whole thing.

      Failure in space is not considered an option, anymore.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Spinning a disk doesn't generate gravity. Who is to say the centrifugal force has the same effect as real gravity?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Spinning a disk doesn't generate gravity. Who is to say the centrifugal force has the same effect as real gravity?

        sigh, physics says, that's who

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      > That said, astronauts are obsolete technology. Robots can do it cheaper and better.

      Isn't latency a problem for many things? Sure if you can program the robot to do everything it won't matter too much. And semi autonomous robots could do many things. But if you need human decision, then you need about 3 minutes for any sensing data to reach earth and then 3 minutes for even an immediate reaction to get back to mars.

      Or am I missing something?

      • Modern robots can make the easy decisions themselves. And the more difficult ones can tolerate a 3 minute delay.

        So Curiosity on Mars can avoid simple obstacles by itself. And take samples etc. The controllers tell it where to go, generally, and what type of sample to take. If Curiosity gets confused, it just stops and asks. But in practice I do not think it spends much time waiting for comms delays.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    increased risk of a fatal cancer for the rest of your life...

    versus

    not having to listen to the moron in chief nor hear about his twitter shit posts for a year

    sign me up

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      They've got Twitter up on the ISS.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      increased risk of a fatal cancer for the rest of your life...

      versus

      not having to listen to the moron in chief nor hear about his twitter shit posts for a year

      sign me up

      There's no such escape -- the ISS has around a 3mbit/10mbit (upstream is faster than downstream) internet connection. Faster than many American home internet connections, though those in other countries may find it to be limiting.

  • Has NASA done any in-space studies of artificial gravity from centripetal force (or is it centrifugal?)? Many books and movies have done real-studies on rotating sections (2001, Rendevous on Rama, O'Neills space colonies, etc...). Even some pretty good math support on how long the lever arm has to be vs rotation speed.... I don't know how they would attach it to ISS, but it sounds like some kind of testing should be done.....
    • It's purely an issue of cost. To produce rotational artificial gravity, you need a fairly large lever arm (otherwise the gravitational gradient is rather large, which means your head feels less gravity than your feet and... well, I'm not sure what the effects of that would be, but I can't imagine it would feel pleasant), which means you need a ship far large than you can launch into space in one go. You could build/assemble it in space, but that's difficult and expensive. Finally, you can't add something li

      • A proposed solution for deep space missions (to Mars for example) is to send 2 ships at once, tether them using a long cable, and have them spin around each other like a pair of bolas. Instant gravity without a lot of extra weight (though building a ship for spin of say half a g does add weight too), and you can make the cable a lot longer than any arm, which helps with the coriolis effect.
      • Not just cost, but also operational complexity / opportunity for failure.

        If you make two "gravipods" and tether them, theoretically they can spin and achieve whatever force you want on the occupants - longer tethers mean lower RPMs for the same force, but no matter how you configure it the whole thing has to be stronger to withstand the forces, and docking with something spinning like that isn't nearly as easy as 2001 made it look.

    • No such thing as centrifugal force. It's an engineer's phantom. There's only inertia.

      I don't know why but this quote always stuck with me...

  • I just keep wonder why NASA has this fixation on trying to do space in weightlessness? Why not use centrifugal force to simulate gravity... Why not use plants and other natural processes for breathable air and self-sustenance?

    I believe the answer lies in that it's scientists, and not engineers, setting the agendas. Scientists are trained to be scepticle. They ask what is and isn't. Engineers focus on solving problems. They ask how it can be done, not if. Scientists are seeking tests to publish article

    • by SpaceDave ( 4139061 ) on Sunday October 08, 2017 @09:02PM (#55333249)

      Actually scientists would love artificial gravity as it would solve all sorts of problems for them. What's preventing this from happening is that the engineers haven't been able to come up with a practical, economic way to create a centrifugal module.

      But maybe that's just because they haven't consulted you yet. You should contact NASA and let them know you have the answers.

      • not true, solution is easy, solved decades ago. You have giant hollow ring and spin it. NASA knows this too. It's a money problem.

      • All spacecraft are spun or use spinning reaction wheels [wikipedia.org] for stability. Heck, I've had to do weight and inertia calculations to insure the major or minor inertia axis of a spacecraft aligns with its designed rotational axis. If they don't line up, it will tumble [youtube.com]. Rotation is a very well-understood problem which has been and is already tackled and used aboard every satellite, space problem, and launch vehicle we send up into space.

        The practical problem isn't one of designing or building a centrifugal mo
    • My understanding is that a practical device for achieving simulated gravity with spinning would need to be very very large. Otherwise, any people moving around would feel terribly sick. I believe this is known as the Coriolis effect.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I just keep wonder why NASA has this fixation on trying to do space in weightlessness? Why not use centrifugal force to simulate gravity...

      Because the ISS is specifically for gaining experience with the effects of zero-G, of course. We need to know whether all astronauts suffer the effects described here after long periods, or some subset. We need to know what durations are required for which effects to show up. It's science.

      And the effects Kelly describes are for the most part adaptations to microgravity. When you first go into zero-G your blood rushes to your head because your vascular system has spent a lifetime squeezing it out of your leg

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    A rare type of Dwarfism.

    http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff... [purrsia.com]

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Sunday October 08, 2017 @08:43PM (#55333197)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    tldr;

    * only 40% of missions have actually succeeded, i.e. not crashed

    * microgravity will render astronauts helpless. I.e., unlike earth, there won't be anybody at the destination to carry you off on a stretcher and treat you back to health. (Bone loss and vision changes/glaucoma, low blood pressure, T-cell reductions). You need a rotating setup for centripital gravity.

    * a piece of rock the size of a beebee can wreak enormous damage to the ship; think Apollo 13

    * radiation; a solar flare would be fatal to astronauts.Van Allen belts mostly protect against charged particles. If a flare hits a mission outside the Van Allen belts, the astronauts will die eventually, unless the mission carries literally tons of lead shields. The moon missions were lucky to not get hit. A Hohmann transfer orbit takes approx 6 months to get from earth to Mars (or visa versa). You will get hit by solar storms

    If we could get an "ion-drive" to get us there in a month, that will cut down the the bone loss, and exposure to radiation.

    • If we could get an "ion-drive" to get us there in a month, that will cut down the the bone loss, and exposure to radiation.

      Does Mars provide any real protection against radiation?

      • If we could get an "ion-drive" to get us there in a month, that will cut down the the bone loss, and exposure to radiation.

        Does Mars provide any real protection against radiation?

        Yes, by virtue of being made of rock. Just being in orbit will cut out ~half of cosmic radiation, and a surface colony could have buildings underground or covered in sandbags or bricks to get greater protection. People walking on the surface would still get elevated exposure compared to Earth, because the atmosphere is so thin, but having a sleeping shelter that is thoroughly shielded may give the body enough of an opportunity to heal and recover such that the long-term effects are mitigated.

    • microgravity will render astronauts helpless. I.e., unlike earth, there won't be anybody at the destination to carry you off on a stretcher and treat you back to health.

      Scott Kelly was still able to move around, function, and decline to go to the hospital in the described scenario for his first 48 hours after returning to Earth. Clearly if he'd been landed on Mars he'd have been able to function, even though he probably still wouldn't enjoy 30% gravity.

    • One way to address the solar storm problem could be to develop a constant-thrust fission engine. It gets us to the destination in a shorter time, and if a storm does occur enroute the crew could hide behind the dense fuel as shielding.

  • I find the idea that we can change so much to be intriguing, not a problem so much as a sign of opportunities. It makes me wonder if anyone has ever researched the changes that would occur in an environment with increased gravity.

    What would happen if you were to put an athlete in a huge centrifuge and gradually increasing the "gravity" for a year prior to the Olympics? You'd probably have to get them out a few weeks early so that they could relearn dexterity in our lower environment, but the increase in str

    • by godrik ( 1287354 )

      > It makes me wonder if anyone has ever researched the changes that would occur in an environment with increased gravity.

      I believe there is prior work on that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    • It's not really that simple..and I bet someone training there would do much worse than with 'normal' gravity.

      There are three key parts to exemplary performance when training: specificity, specificity, specificity.

      It would take a long time to adapt to such an environment, all movement would be different, and probably muscles engaged in a different way. Let's look at a sport like shot put - you'd think 'oh, they'll get used to resisting more force', but not really, they'd just get better at shot put in higher

    • Buck Rogers in the 25th Century figured this one out. It makes you a bit camp, not at all muscly, but incredibly strong (even if you're "considered something of a weakling" on your home planet).

      • That is the theory I've always seen. The latest example I can think of is the character Alara Kitan on The Orville who is presented as a relatively petite female that owes her strength to the gravitational pull of the planet Xelayan.
  • by way2slo ( 151122 ) on Sunday October 08, 2017 @11:22PM (#55333619) Journal

    Luna is the key to getting off this planet.

    1) We master fast, safe travel to and from Luna. Think some kind of cross between Space-X and the Shuttle and Apollo LEM. Maybe something like Space-X takes you to IIS, then you board a Shuttle to Luna orbit, then a sturdy LEM departs the cargo bay or top half, and lands on Luna surface then can take-off back to Shuttle leaving nothing behind, then Shuttle travels back to IIS, then Space-X back down to Earth while Shuttle stays in orbit.

    2) We establish a permanent colony on Luna. Dig down and use Lunar rock to shield from radiation. Build large loops underground that centrifuge up to 1G for normal living. Learn hard lessons of living off Earth, but with not too horrible 4 day return if needed using technology in Step 1.

    3) Build Space Elevator - it is possible on Luna with existing materials and technology. Very hard if we have to ship the materials up, but we may find what we need on Luna.

    4) Use Lunar resources to build large interplanetary vessel powered with ion drive in Luna orbit with the Elevator. Step 3 is huge, but this will make Step 3 look like a picnic. It would have to have enough shielding to keep radiation down to earth normal levels, rotate to simulate 1G for living, and be able to make the trip to Mars, or elsewhere, and back without refueling, and carry it's own Space-X, or two, for landing on the surface and taking you back up to the ship and all the fuel that requires.

    5) Make permanent colony on Mars using lessons learned in Step 2. Dig down to shield. Centrifuge to 1G for living. Etc.

    We get to Mars eventually, but we learn how to get there and how to live there by doing it on Luna first. Next would be in the Asteroid Belt on some minor planets. Or perhaps turning large asteroids into space stations. Lots of possibilities once you know how to get this far.

    • Dig down and use Lunar rock to shield from radiation. Build large loops underground that centrifuge up to 1G for normal living.

      Getting tunnel boring machines onto the moon isn't exactly a walk in the park. Getting excavating equipment to the moon isn't going to be cheap or easy.

    • Step 1 is actually:
      1) Become an anorganic 'species'.

      Everything else is much, much easier after that.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The main issue with a permanent base on the moon as opposed to Mars is the lack of resources up there. It's feasible to be self sustaining on Mars, although regular cargo shipments would make life a lot easier. On the moon any base would be reliant on regular supply missions from Earth just to survive.

      Your method is probably safer but also much more expensive, and therefore highly unlikely to ever start and highly likely to be cancelled half way through. Practically aiming for Mars directly is a better opti

    • Agree wholeheartedly. People are so infatuated with a Mars flag raising exercise. We need to PROVE that humans can live in the unprecedented level of isolation that a Mars trip will demand first. The worst thing that could happen is some catastrophic accident or unforeseen circumstance that kills a crew and sets manned space travel back 20-30 years.

  • We are not tourists on the Earth. We ARE the Earth! We are not the moon. We are not Mars. We are not anywhere else in the universe. We are made to live nowhere else. Period. All this space travel and "colonization" enthusiasm is naive and deadly. It is also immoral to support loudly or quietly a belief in space that can only lead to the horrible deaths of numerous people.
  • The pipe dream that we're going to float all over the solar system, hop out on zero-G weakened legs, and explore the surface of another world for 6 months.

    We're probably going to have to wait until we've developed rotation spacecraft. And, this WON'T be trivial because the Coriolis (?) effect means you have the make the spacecraft sufficiently large for humans to adjust to the rotation. Spinning an upper stage of a Saturn V won't do it.

  • by sbaker ( 47485 ) on Monday October 09, 2017 @01:50PM (#55337055) Homepage

    We have perfect data on what 1g does to a person. Following extended ISS and MIR missions, we have pretty decent data on 0g - and the answer is that it slowly kills us. But we have literally no data WHATEVER on what 0.17g (moon) or 0.38g (mars) does to us.

    Is that enough gravity to avoid 100% of the problems in 0g? Does it actually have ALL of the problems of 0g?

    We really have no clue.

    Given the nature of orbits and getting to Mars and back, you either have to stay for no longer than 2 weeks - or you have to stay for an entire year. If we send people to Mars for 2 weeks - after 6 months in zero-g flight - and with another 6 months of zero-g to get home again - the effect on the crew will be within the range of adverse conditions that we've seen for 12 months in zero-g (VERY BAD!), regardless of what 2 weeks at Mars gravity does to them. But if we send them for an entire year - then they could easily be anywhere between dead and fully healthy when they head home.

    The 2 week mission provides us with no information whatever. The second approach is REALLY dangerous. If Mars gravity is no better than zero-g then the astronauts will have had 2 years of inadequate gravity...and they may well end up dead. We have NO CLUE what 2 years of inadequate-gravity does to people.

    So what we NEED to be doing - as a matter of urgency - is sending a spinning 1/3rd g artificial gravity environment into orbit and sticking some astronauts inside it for months at a time. All we need is a reasonable sized crew compartment (Hi Bigelow guys! This is your thing!) and a decent counter-weight with a strong cable between them. All the crew have to do is live there and exercise daily. Heck, I bet we could find people who'd pay millions to do it.

    This is actually a MUCH more important thing to know than what we'll gain by sending people to Mars. It determines whether mankind has any kind of future at all in space or whether it's robots all the way.

    None of the efforts to get people to Mars appear to have that anywhere in their mission plans...which is crazy!

    • Just a shot from the hip, but I'll bet living in 0.17g or 0.38g would have effects somewhat like 83% and 62% of what Scott Kelly described. I mean, I have SOME clue.

      You hyperbole a lot.

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928

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