For more than 50 years now, humankind has been venturing into space in order to learn more about the Earth and the rest of the universe surrounding us. We’ve been to the moon, set up a permanent space base in the form of the International Space Station, and are already planning a mission to Mars.
However, while our accomplishments have been undoubtedly amazing, the people who took part in the missions saw noticeable differences in their bodies – often negative – while in space and after returning back home. Based on decades of studies, here are 10 known side-effects of visiting outer space…
1. Balance difficulties
A person’s balance is regulated using a mechanism in their inner ear. In space, however, this mechanism has to readjust to a difference in gravity. Because of this, astronauts can feel nauseous while adjusting to microgravity and may have to re-familiarize themselves with how to comfortably walk on solid ground when they return to Earth.
2. Loss of bone density
Because there isn’t as much gravity in space, the body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep us sitting/standing/moving around. This causes the bones to lose vital minerals (potentially leading to abnormally high levels of calcium in the blood and increased risk of kidney stones), which in turn causes bone density to decrease by more than one percent every month. To put that in context: elderly men and women lose around one to one-and-a-half percent per year.
So, while being an astronaut might seem like one of the coolest jobs in the world, it’s also probably one of the riskiest. The people who dedicate their lives to exploring the universe have got to be pretty tough individuals, and it’s crazy to think that they go on these missions even though we still don’t fully understand how the human body can be changed by the experience.