Tag Archives | Astronauts

Space travel may be bad for your brain – here’s why

I really hope this is the right flag. NASA/flickr, CC BY

I really hope this is the right flag. NASA/flickr, CC BY

Magdalena Ietswaart, University of Stirling and Paul Dudchenko, University of Stirling

There is bad news for those planning to go to Mars in the near future: a study in mice has suggested that radiation in space could cause cognitive decline in astronauts. However, we know from past research that mental, social and physical exercise can boost cognitive functions. With planned Mars missions moving ever closer, it might be be worth exploring activity as a way to counter radiation damage.

There are many hurdles to overcome to get to Mars. The obvious one, of course, is the amount of time it takes – about eight months. But for those brave enough to attempt such a journey, this may well be acceptable. What could be harder to accept, however, are the harmful galactic cosmic rays you’d be subjected to, produced by supernovae far away from Earth.… Read the rest

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The Dark Side of the Moon

A good long read for Christmas comes in the form of this profile of astronaut Buzz Aldrin at GQ:

“So how was it? How was…the moon?” You have no further questions. Because he went to the moon. And now he’s sitting here, at your table in a dark and crowded D.C. restaurant. It’s disorienting. The moon! The crescent and the eclipse, the waxing and the waning, the cheese—the lunar glow hanging right there, night after night on the periphery of your busy coming and going. No matter what your age, gender, politics, nationality, social or financial standing, every single person inhabiting the planet Earth has the same reaction to him. Holy crap, Buzz Aldrin, you went to the moon!

Buzz Aldrin - Campus Party 2013.jpg
Buzz Aldrin – Campus Party 2013” by Marcio De AssisOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

You smile at him, your face opening the way every single face in the entire world opens when it encounters him.

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Buzz Aldrin Discusses His Apollo XI ‘UFO Encounter’

AldrinOne of the most famous astronauts, Buzz Aldrin, just did a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) and predictably one of the questions was about UFOs. Here’s what Buzz had to say:

Q: Do you believe in aliens and what are the sightings you saw aboard Apollo 11?

A: On Apollo 11 in route to the Moon, I observed a light out the window that appeared to be moving alongside us. There were many explanations of what that could be, other than another spacecraft from another country or another world – it was either the rocket we had separated from, or the 4 panels that moved away when we extracted the lander from the rocket and we were nose to nose with the two spacecraft. So in the close vicinity, moving away, were 4 panels. And i feel absolutely convinced that we were looking at the sun reflected off of one of these panels.

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NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao Describes His 2005 UFO Encounter In Space

leroy chaioVia the Guardian Liberty Voice, did Chiao see a UFO while at the International Space Station?

From October 2004 until April 2005, astronaut Leroy Chiao was flying high as commander of the International Space Station. While he and Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov were taking a stroll outside of the ISS something caught Chiao’s attention. The two were putting together navigational antennas 230 miles above the ground and flying at 17,000 miles an hour when something went by them, traveling even faster.

Chiao says that he saw some lights that he thought were in a line. When the lights flew by him, Chiao thought it was “…awfully strange.” Sharipov was looking the other way. Chiao’s experience is one of several stories that will be told on an upcoming program on the Science Channel.

As an astronaut, Chiao doesn’t believe an intelligently controlled craft from another planet has ever visited Earth [but says] “I have an open mind and I do believe there’s other life in the universe.”

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Twin Study to Explore Genetic Aspects of Space Health

Twin studies are the Holy Grail of medical research, but in some fields its very rare to find qualifying sets of siblings. Two astronaut twins (imagine the odds!) are giving scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine the opportunity to study the genetic aspects of human health outcomes in outer space.

dn23999-2_300New Scientist:

“We have the best ground control you could dream of,” says Graham Scott of the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, who is helping NASA with the experiment. The question of space health is especially timely as several human trips to Mars are currently being discussed.

Last year, Scott Kelly was chosen to take part in the first one-year mission aboard the ISS, double the usual stay, along with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. Then last week NASA announced a twist: his brother Mark will be monitored on Earth throughout.

John Charles, chief scientist of NASA’s human research programme, says the brothers came up with the idea: “I was discussing plans with Scott and he said, ‘how about the twins angle?’ ”

Researchers will have access to blood and saliva samples from both twins taken before, during and after Scott’s trip to the ISS, along with assessments of their vision, sleep patterns and cardiovascular activity.

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Help Make A Disinfonaut An Astronaut

Smelly armpit deodorising company, Lynx (or Axe as they are known outside the United Kingdom) recently launched a contest to send 22 people into space, and I want to be one of them (vote for me here).

Via Space.com:

The company today (Jan. 9) kicked off its new AXE Apollo Space Academy, an online contest that promises to send 22 winners to the edge of space and back aboard a private spaceship. The winning space travelers will launch aboard a suborbital Lynx space plane built by the U.S. company XCOR Aerospace and operated by the tourism firm Space Expedition Curacao, AXE officials said.

“Space travel for everyone is the next frontier in the human experience,” Buzz Aldrin, who became the second person ever to walk on the moon during NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission in 1969, said in a statement. “I’m thrilled that AXE is giving the young people of today such an extraordinary opportunity to experience some of what I’ve encountered in space.”

The contest is open to men and women in more than 60 countries who sign up on the AXE Apollo Space Academy website (AXEApollo.com) and write about why they should be chosen to fly in space, while others will vote on the entries.

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Astronauts On Mars Would Risk DNA Damage

DeMonchaux30Sad news for hopes of future visits to the red planet — anyone who journeys to Mars could come back with their DNA adversely altered, Russian scientists warn. Mars Daily explains:

Future astronauts working on the Red Planet’s surface risk general changes in health at the DNA level because of increased radiation exposure, a prominent Russian academic said on Monday.

“According to our estimates, researchers on the surface of Mars can expect a number of adverse factors, such as cardiac arrhythmia, sensory impairments, changes at the DNA level, and demineralization of bone tissue,” Anatoly Grigoryev, the deputy head of Russia’s Academy of Sciences, told at a presentation at the International Symposium on the results of ground-based experiment Mars-500.

The unique Moscow-based Mars-500 experiment was completed on November 4. It attempted to recreate at least some of the conditions of a flight to the Red Planet by locking six men away in a mock spacecraft.

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NASA Astronauts’ Brain Scans Reveal Serious Deformities

DeMonchaux30Space travel changes you, and not in a good way. If this is the effect of only a couple weeks, it definitely puts a damper on the idea of attempting a ten-year voyage to another galaxy. The Irish Times reports:

Brain scans of Nasa astronauts who have returned to Earth after more than a month in space have revealed potentially serious abnormalities that could jeopardise long-term space missions.

Doctors examined 27 astronauts who had flown long-duration missions and found a pattern of deformities in their eyeballs, optic nerves and pituitary glands that remain unexplained.

Astronauts who had flown on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station reported changes to eyesight, with some seeing worse and others better. Brain scans revealed that seven of the 27 astronauts had a flattening of the back of one or both eyes.

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Astronaut Suicides

This summer’s final NASA space shuttle mission marks the end of the 30-year era of the United States’ sending live explorers into outer space. Photographers Sara Phillips and Neil DaCosta created Astronaut Suicides, a series depicting the logical conclusion of the decision to render the astronaut an obsolete relic.


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