Space Missions Cause Significant Bone Loss, New Study Claims

Space Missions Cause Significant Bone Loss, New Study Claims

Perhaps you’ve already heard about astronauts feeling a bit under the weather after engaging in a space mission, not to mention that they have trouble readapting to Earth’s gravity. A new study confirms that space travel is far from being just a walk in the park, and it raises new concerns regarding long-term space missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

17 astronauts who were also members of the International Space Station (ISS) participated in the new study in question, and Yahoo News tells us more. Nine of these people had to deal with permanent bone mineral density loss because of their space missions that lasted between four and seven months. The lack of gravity in space is also what causes significant bone loss, as the new research claims.

Six months of space flights are equivalent to 20 years on Earth

The new study says the bone loss that astronomers have to deal with during space missions is so significant that six months spent above the atmosphere will be equivalent to two decades that passed by while keeping feet on the ground. Space agencies need to overcome such issues for their astronauts by imposing programs of phsycal exercises and improving their nutrition. 

Perhaps even more concerning, the study has also found that only about half of bone loss can be recovered a year after returning from a space mission. 

Professor Leigh Gabel from the University of Calgary, who led the research, explained as Yahoo News quotes:

Astronauts experienced significant bone loss during six-month spaceflights – loss that we would expect to see in older adults over two decades on Earth, and they only recovered about half of that loss after one year back on Earth,

We know that astronauts lose bone on long-duration spaceflight.

What’s novel about this study is that we followed astronauts for one year after their space travel to understand if and how bone recovers.

The longer a space mission is, the reduced the likelihood of recovery will be. Therefore, in the case of many of us men who were dreaming of becoming astronauts when we were little, maybe it was better that we got other jobs in the end. 

The new research was published in Scientific Reports.

Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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