A spacecraft returned to earth today from the International Space Station carrying several tons of equipment and science experiments.
One of those experiments belongs to University of Minnesota Alumni Dr. Alan Hargens. His research examines the changes in an astronaut’s body after living in zero-gravity for an extended period of time
Dr. Hargens’ says that when astronauts, like NASA’s Scott Kelly, live the zero-gravity conditions of space for a long time their blood pressure changes. Hargen’s says this change in blood pressure, “causes a fluid shift from the lower-body to the upper-body and the astronauts get facial swelling. In fact, in some of the crew members, the facial puffiness is so pronounced that the other crew members don’t even recognize them.”
This shift in blood pressure causes vision impairment in the astronauts, “with what might be slightly elevated intracrainial pressure and it seem to last even though they come back to earth. ”
Dr. Hargens intends to see if that pressure causes swelling behind the optic nerve and investigate any countermeasure that NASA can take to prevent any long-term damage to their astronauts.
This project is one of many within NASA’s Twins Study on identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly. Samples from Scott Kelly, who spent over 500 days in space, will be compared with samples from Kelly’s identical twin Mark Kelly who remained on earth to better understand how humans can survive in space.
The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft crashed to earth at 2:51 p.m. today nearly 261 miles off the pacific coast of Long Beach, California. The spacecraft will return to SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas for processing before the samples get shipped to Dr. Hargens.
Get more information about SpaceX’s mission to the International Space Station at: http://www.nasa.gov/spacex
Get more information about the International Space Station at: http://www.nasa.gov/station