The Last Furlong

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Problems in the physical body in “space”

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The Space Station is not very far up – about 250 miles only. Tonight The Furlongs will be watching as it passes overhead. 

But, in actual fact, the dream humans have of moving into real “space”, relies on how we respond to the difficulties our bodies have “out there”. The Space Station inhabitants have many physical problems.

1. It stretches out your spine

Astronauts can grow up to 3 per cent taller in space. That means that a 6-foot-tall astronaut could tack on an extra two inches.

2. It turns your muscles into jelly

You don’t need muscles to support you in a weightless environment. Astronauts’ muscles almost immediately start shrinking and shedding the extra tissue that they no longer need.

3. It makes your face puffy

Our bodies are mostly liquid. The gravity on Earth pulls that liquid down and some of it pools in our lower extremities. In near zero-g the liquid is spread out more evenly around the body, so astronauts’ faces look puffier than normal while their legs look skinnier than normal.

4. It thins out your bone density

Astronauts can lose around 1% of their bone density every month they spend in space if they don’t regularly exercise. It makes them a lot more likely to break bones when they’re back on Earth — similar to people who have osteoporosis

5. It can cause vision problems

A 2013 study examined the eyes of 27 astronauts who had spent an average of 108 days on board the ISS. Nasa researchers found that many of them had eye abnormalities after returning from space. MRI scans showed that nine of the astronauts had bloating around their optic nerves and six of the astronauts had eyeballs that were physically flattened out in the back.

6. It messes with your immune system

Living in space can depress astronauts’ immune systems, according to a study published in 2014.

7. It screws up your sleep cycle

Astronauts have to strap themselves into sleeping bags every night. In microgravity their heads roll forward and their arms float up once they fall asleep.

8. It throws off your coordination

It’s a struggle returning to Earth after spending 6 months in microgravity. Astronauts lose their definitive sense of up and down while they’re in space because the vestibular system can’t tell where the ceiling is and where the ground is in a weightless environment.

9. It messes with your senses

Pressure changes in space and so fluids shift around in the body. The same effect that makes astronauts’ faces puffy also makes them congested.

“It’s the same as having a cold or allergies,” astronaut and physician Scott Parazynski toldScientific American. “A stuffy nose definitely dampens your sense of smell and consequently your sense of taste.”

10. It takes a toll on your psyche

On the ISS astronauts are literally a world away from anything familiar, and it’s not like they can pack up and leave any time they want.

Astronauts undergo a rigorous psychological screening before they can even start training for space. Still, feelings of isolation and confinement are a big risk. Combine that with sleep deprivation, the absence of the comfort of gravity, and dulled senses, and you can begin to imagine the psychological toll long-term spaceflight can take.

11. It makes nutrition a challenge

Not getting the right nutrients can make almost all of the above effects even worse.

12. It exposes you to dangerous cosmic radiation

Cosmic radiation will not give you super powers like in “The Fantastic Four.” A dose of it can tear through your very DNA, and that damage can lead to cancer, cataracts, or other diseases.

Earth’s atmosphere acts as a force field that shields us from 99 per cent of cosmic radiation, but astronauts don’t have the same kind of protection in space. Radiation risk increases by a factor of about 30, according to the European Space Agency.

And that’s just in The Space Station!

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Author: thelastfurlong

I'm someone also pounding the Path, just like you.. I'm retired, going into Old Age and loving my life. I'm hoping to remain happy and well for as long as possible. Old Age is not SO bad - yet!

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