Long Space Missions cause problems at Astronauts’ Brain
One of the next steps that humanity dreams and takes is to move to another planet, something which, with the current data (apart from creating an environment conducive to humans), requires a long journey. This means that astronauts will have to live under conditions of reduced gravity, which may affect their brains.
Researchers, led by Associate Professor of Radiology Donna Roberts of the Medical University of South Carolina, say that astronauts’ brains that spend months in space are moving upward as far as their skull, but not in their skull. May have.
This new American scientific research was published in the American medical journal The New England Journal of Medicine and is being relayed by the Athens News Agency, which studies the study using modern magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of 34 astronauts’ brains.
Of these, 18 had stayed at the International Space Station (ISS) for an average of 165 days, while the remaining 16 had stayed in space for only two weeks. In all cases, the astronauts’ brains were studied before their mission into space, and again a week after they had returned to Earth.
It was found that the brains of those who had been left in space for months were moving upward into the skull, thereby reducing the distance between the top of the brain and the inner surface of the skull, which was not the case for those who had remained in space for only a few. days. At the same time, in those who had long remained in space, the brain – especially the frontal cortex that controls vital cognitive functions – underwent various structural changes.
It is not clear how quickly the brain can return to its normal position within the skull after returning to Earth’s gravity. One concern of doctors is that upward movement of the brain can compress the nerves in the skull, as well as a vital artery that removes blood from the brain, which could lead to increased blood pressure in the head.
It is already known – according to NASA – that some astronauts are returning from the International Space Station with vision problems due to increased intracranial pressure.
Even more uncertain, researchers say, is what can happen to the human brain after a long space trip. “If we see these changes in the brain after a few months on the ISS, what could happen to a Mars mission?“.
A manned mission to the “red” planet – planned by NASA for 2033 – will take up to six months to get there. But astronauts will have to stay on Mars for at least two years before finding a favorable “window” to return to Earth. But the gravity on the neighboring planet is about one-third of the Earth’s.
Consequently – taking into account the six-month return trip – astronauts will be forced into microgravity for three years, something that has never happened to humans before. To date, the record of continuous space in space is held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov with 438 days.
NASA will continue to study how long the changes in brain physiology last and whether they affect the behavior and physical performance of astronauts. Similar experiments are also being carried out by the European Space Agency (ESA).
It may eventually prove necessary for both the spacecraft and the Mars base to have artificial terrestrial gravity to keep the astronauts’ brains intact. But the creation of artificial gravity for the time being is a science fiction