A new study from NASA analyzed data gathered from nine male and female astronauts who spent more than six months each on the International Space Station (ISS) in zero-gravity.
Study Shows Dangers of an Extended Time in Space
Research found that the loss of endurance was significant. It varied, according to astronaut, from 30% to almost 50 percent. The extended time spent in zero gravity seemed to affect at least two parts of the system. Or more exactly, both the heart and micro-capillaries, which deliver blood directly to organ tissues.
Spending a prolonged period traveling in space has enough dangers as it is. Virtually every one of those is exacerbated if astronauts have a reduced capacity to exert themselves. It can make even the easiest or simplest tasks more difficult, including space walks and routine maintenance.
“When your cardiovascular function decreases, your aerobic exercise capacity goes down. You can’t perform physically challenging activities anymore,” said Dr. Carl Ade, lead author of the study and professor of exercise physiology at Kansas State University.
He then goes to point out that the 30% to 50% decrease is quite “dramatic”. Dr. Ade stated that previous studies seemed to indicate that this reduction is tied to “changes in heart function”. Now, their latest research data suggest this may not be the only cause. Differences at the “level of microcirculation, within capillaries” may be tied in with the heart changes.
These changes are a newly detected consequence of spending an extended time in space. It seems to add even more difficulties to manned missions to Mars and beyond.
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