According to a new report, astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA is significantly different after almost a year in space.
After setting a record for the longest single spaceflight in history, Kelly’s DNA was compared to that of his identical twin brother. NASA is saying the trip made Kelly a “new man” as the study found differences in the astronaut’s DNA.
Denver’s CBS Local reports: Kelly spent 340 straight days aboard the International Space Station from 2015 to 2016. When the NASA veteran returned to Earth, researchers immediately noted that he had grown two inches in height. A new study comparing Scott to his identical twin, Mark — who is also a NASA astronaut and stayed on Earth during the 340-day trip — has revealed that long-term space travel alters more than just your height.
“Scott’s telomeres (endcaps of chromosomes that shorten as one ages) actually became significantly longer in space,” NASA researchers wrote in a statement. The space agency added that Kelly had hundreds of “space genes” activated by the year-long flight which reportedly altered the astronaut’s “immune system, DNA repair, bone formation networks, hypoxia, and hypercapnia.”
Scott Kelly’s height and 93 percent of his DNA returned to normal after his return to Earth, but NASA said the remaining seven percent of his genes stayed altered and may always be.
Researchers say the reason for the permanent change is thought to be due to “the stresses of space travel. “That stress causes changes in a cell’s structure and leads to ejection of DNA and RNA.
The report continues: NASA also found that Kelly’s mental reflexes and accuracy dropped off significantly after coming back to Earth. The mental slow down was blamed on “re-exposure and adjustment to Earth’s gravity.”
What? My DNA changed by 7%! Who knew? I just learned about it in this article. This could be good news! I no longer have to call @ShuttleCDRKelly my identical twin brother anymore. https://t.co/6idMFtu7l5
— Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) March 10, 2018
— The Hill (@thehill) March 14, 2018