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August 27, 2010

Mars astronauts - Shrinking Old

Humans dream of exploring outer space beyond the Moon. In fact, the President of the United States, Barack Obama had a target, the mid 2030's, we can send astronauts into orbit Mars.

Obama does not just dream up in orbit, he hopes to send the first man who will set foot on Mars.
However, some scientists recently warned that sending people to the Red Planet could be dangerous. Because of space travel in a long time the astronauts would be physically exhausting. From various studies the scientists found that the astronauts would lose half of their muscle strength in the mission to mars it.

For example, if astronauts to Mars aged between 30 to 50 years, when returned to Earth, their muscle strength equivalent to grandparents age 80 years. If it is so, the risk of a trip to mars, increasingly large.
The research team led by Robert Fitts, professor of biology at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, took tissue samples from calves nine U.S. and Russian astronauts who spent six months on the International Space Station.

Biopsies taken 45 days before the launch, and before returning to Earth showed atrophy of the cells in zero gravity areas.
Professor Fitts asserts that the mass loss of fibers in the cells, as well as its strength, can be translated by more than 40 percent decline in physical work capacity.

United States Space Agency (NASA) to design a trip to Mars using current rocket technology, it took three years - including a year's stay on Mars.
If so, the decline in the muscles most affected such as the calf could approach 50 percent. On their return to Earth gravity, they will be very weak, unable even to evacuate themselves during an emergency.

This report has been published online in The Journal of Physiology - hard copies will be published next month.
Loss of muscle strength has been investigated previously in medical science outer space - but this is the first analysis of the related missions in the long term.

However, Fitts said the results of these tests should not prevent human beings from outer space exploration. Because, he continued, "Without exploration, we will be stagnant and failed to improve our understanding of the universe."

These findings demonstrate the importance of fitness for astronaut training - both on Earth and when they travel.
Besides the decline in physical fitness, the astronauts are also at risk of suffering from cancer as a result of DNA damage from cosmic radiation, the loss of bone density, and mental stress due to isolation.

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