The technology we have today, has made space travel more accessible to people than before. In fact, a space race has officially announced its participants that will fly to the moon.
Despite of humanity getting closer to leisure interstellar traveling, experts are still uncertain of how the unknown elements in the outer galaxy can affect the human body. However, due to the changes in the DNA of this one astronaut who spent almost a year in space, experts may start scratching beneath the surface.
Scott Kelly (c) Twitter
Experts are now studying Scott Kelly's DNA. He spent 340 days in space in 2015–16, which has a lifetime total of 520 days. Scientists studied the genetic differences between astronaut Scott Kelly, and his identical twin Mark.
Scott had his DNA measured before and after his space flight. Changes in his DNA include gene expression, DNA methylation and other biological markers. From the lengths of the twins’ chromosomes to the microbes in their guts, “almost everyone is reporting that we see differences,” Christopher Mason, a geneticist at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City told the Live Mint
Experts said, the changes may be attributed to Scott's time in orbit.
Scott Kelly in space (c) darkthirtynews.com
Compared to Mark, who is also an astronaut who had previously flown in space for a total of 54 days over four space-shuttle missions between 2001 and 2011, Scott's gene had noticeable changes.
Results showed that during spaceflight, Scott’s telomeres
grew to be longer than his brother’s.
“That is exactly the opposite of what we thought,” said Susan Bailey, a radiation biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins in a statement
. However, when Scott returned to Earth, the length of his telomeres quickly returned to his pre-flight levels.
On the other hand, Scott's DNA methylation decreased during flight, and increased in Mark over the same period. DNA methylation is the reversible addition of a chemical marker to DNA that can affect gene expression. Yet, levels for both men returned close to preflight levels after Scott came back to the ground.
Despite the lack of evidence, we can't help but think: can space traveling turn humans into alien forms?