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Space station crew will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times, says NASA

The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.

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The ISS currently has current six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Wikimedia Commons
The ISS currently has current six crew members on the orbital laboratory. Wikimedia Commons

As the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) orbit Earth once every 90 minutes, they will experience New Year’s Eve 16 times, NASA pointed out. That is 16 sunrise and sunsets 402.3 km above Earth, the US space agency said in a blog post on Thursday. The six astronauts and cosmonauts will go into the last weekend of 2017 with light duty and family conferences before taking the New Year’s Day off.

The current six crew members on the orbital laboratory comprise three US astronauts, two Russian cosmonauts and a Japanese astronaut. Ahead of the New Year, the astronauts are conducting life science studies to help mission doctors keep astronauts healthier and stronger while living in outer space.

Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai took his turn on the exercise bike on Thursday for a study researching physical exertion in space. Doctors measure the astronauts breathing and other parameters during exercise to ensure they have the strength to perform strenuous activities such as spacewalks and even emergency procedures.

ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons
ISS is a permanent base for astronauts stationed in the outer sky. Wikimedia Commons

Flight Engineer Scott Tingle of NASA was harvesting plants for the Advanced Plants Experiment-05 (APEX) and stowing the botany samples in a science freezer for further analysis, the blog post said.

Scientists are exploring how plants respond to microgravity and observing molecular and genetic changes. The two other NASA astronauts living and working aboard the space station are Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. Anton Shkaplerov and Alexander Misurkin of the Russian space agency Roscosmos are the other two other crew members.

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NASA’S Twins Study Claims, Long-term Spaceflight Not Linked to Major Health Risks

"It's almost as if the body's on high alert," said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

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NASA
Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Pixabay

While it was previously thought that long duration spaceflight can affect the human body, even at the molecular level, new results from NASAs “Twins Study” has showed that there are no major warning signs and no reason to think humans cannot survive a two-and-a-half-year round-trip journey to Mars.

As part of the “Twins Study”, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark, his identical twin, stayed on Earth as a control subject to look at the effects of space travel on the human body.

Spending nearly a year in orbit increased NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s immune system response, as if, at the cellular level, his body felt under attack as compared to his Earth-bound twin brother, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

NASA
According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern. Pixabay

These comparisons, however, has not raised any red flags about long-term spaceflight on the International Space Station (ISS), NASA officials were quoted as saying at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science here.

“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The space sojourn also changed the activity of some of his genes.

“It’s mostly really good news,” Mason said, adding, “the body has extraordinary plasticity and adaptation to being in zero gravity, at least for a year”.

NASA
“It’s almost as if the body’s on high alert,” said Christopher Mason, Associate Professor at Weill Cornell Medicine. Pixabay

According to Craig Kundrot, Director of NASA’s space life and physical sciences division, so far the space agency’s research found nothing that would make a Mars mission impossible.

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According to report, the biggest concern is radiation as such a mission would expose astronauts to levels of radiation greater than permitted under current guidelines. That would not necessarily prevent a mission, but it remains a concern.

However, Kundrot cautioned that the twin study has only two people as samples. “We don’t regard any of this as conclusive, but on the whole it’s encouraging,” he said, adding, “there are no new major warning signs”. (IANS)