The effects of traveling to space they have been extensively studied since the first astronauts left our planet. However, given the turn that the space raceit would also be necessary to study the cumulative effects. That is, what if a person spends a lot of time in space? And if he barely has time to rest between one trip and the next?
These two questions were asked by a team of scientists from the University of Floridawhose results just published in Scientific Reports. Specifically, they wanted to analyze one of the best-known effects of traveling to space: increase in brain volume.
It has long been known that the brain volume of astronauts increases due to lack of gravity. On Earth it helps body fluids are distributed throughout the body, falling down. However, in space that does not happen. Therefore, they tend to go upwards, accumulating, for example, a large amount of cerebrospinal fluid. It is believed that, in part, this increase in brain volume would be related to vision problems in astronauts, another of the most frequent effects of traveling to space. Therefore, both the causes and the possibilities of recovery have been studied a lot. Now, we know that the normal volume can be recovered, but as long as the astronauts stop a prudential time between one mission and another.
The effects of traveling to space on the brain
The increase in brain volume caused by certain diseases has been related to walking problems, dementia and urinary incontinence. This has not happened to any astronaut so far. However, there is a lot of interest in knowing if there could be long-term consequences.
For this reason, the authors of this new study performed a brain MRI at 30 astronauts. Of all of them, 8 had carried out two-week missions, 18 had been in space for six months and the remaining 4 had been even longer.
The objective was to check if the ventricleswhere the cerebrospinal fluid, they had swollen in the trips and, in addition, calculate the time they take to recover.
Thus, they saw that, in all of them, there was an increase in brain volume. This was even higher if they had spent at least six months in space. However, once on earth everything was gradually returning to normal. The problem is that it is a slow recovery, so those who started a new mission too soon they did not have time to recover.
must wait three years
According to the calculations made in the study, for these effects of traveling to space to fully recover, at least three years between mission and mission. So far, that’s been relatively easy. However, more and more manned space missions will be carried out, so astronauts could be used on a more continuous basis. This study is very interesting, because it establishes what recovery times should be.
Of course, it only serves one of the many purposes of traveling into space. The optimal thing would be to do other similar investigations about the other symptoms. Thus, the astronauts of the future will be able to look towards that pale blue dot that the Earth becomes in a much more secure way.