Even if the one-year mission of Scott Kelly is over in space, the astronaut will continue his work on Earth, along with Mikhail Kornienko, his Russian counterpart. The main purpose for which the two were sent to spend one whole year away from our planet is to study the effects of spaceflight on both the human psyche and body.
Kelly and Kornienko returned on March 1 from the International Space Station, and the scientific experiments on them are still ongoing. Researchers will take a throughout look at information that was collected before, during and after the trip, and is set to give us a new insight on the resistance of humans on long trips through space.
On March 4, scientists that are working on the One-Year-Mission have answered various questions on the project by taking part in a new conference on NASA TV but also a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). Since the trip to Mars is expected to take about six months, the information provided by Kelly and Kornienko is truly invaluable.
The tests began as soon as the two set foot on Earth because researchers are interested in the capacity of astronauts immediately after the completion of a long spaceflight.
The tests and experiments are expected to extend until 2017 since not all data has yet arrived on Earth. Urine and blood samples collected by Kelly will be brought back home in May by a SpaceX vehicle. Furthermore, the same tests are run on Scott Kelly’s brother, Mark Kelly, who is a retired astronaut, in order to determine the effects of space on the genetic level.
According to the international science associate manager of the Human Research Program from NASA, John Charles,
“Especially for the Twins Study, the metabolic data that were acquired are going to be batch analyzed, which means that all the samples or most of the samples will be analyzed by the same technician, with the same hardware, at the same time and the same place.”
In this way, scientists will eliminate the possibilities of variations determined by locations or technicians.
As he has stated during the new conference from NASA, with regards to the trip to Mars, Charles is mostly concerned with the psychological impact of such a trip, but also with the radio delays which might pose problems to communication.
While the work of the two astronauts is incredible, there might be the need for another trip of one year in space for further research, this time with more people.
Image Source: NASA