Effects Of Long Term Space Flight

Decent Essays
Meghan Stavig
ESS102 Research Paper

Effects of Long Term Space Flight

We’ve all heard about the rigorous mental and physical tests that astronaut candidates must go through in order to be considered to be sent into space; but what is the methodology behind them? What most laymen’s’ overlook when they think ‘Astronaut’ is the extreme physical and mental taxation that is associated with space flight. Astronauts will have to endure long-term isolation, monotony, limited mobility and close living quarters amongst each other for months and potentially years at a time. This can lead to many health issues; the sanitary conditions of the spacecraft must be impeccable. Mentally, these extenuating circumstances can lead to depression,
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The calcium and phosphorous is excreted through human waste, causing kidney stones in many cases [3]. The most affected bones consist of the heel, femoral neck, lumbar spine and pelvis. Astronauts spend between 2-5 hours a day exercising to try to decrease this atrophy, but will still experience varying levels of bone and muscle loss [3]. The use of artificial gravity could mitigate this problem, and is currently being researched and designed. Along with bone loss, Astronauts will also experience growth in height, by about 3% [3]. Without gravity, the human spine isn’t weighed down and has room to expand. This causes severe back and muscle aches, and makes exercising harder and more painful. Once astronauts return to Earth, they will return to their normal height [3].

Another major problem associated with humans in space flight is radiation poisoning [5]. Astronauts will be exposed to extremely high levels of ionizing radiation (radiation consisting of particles, x-rays, or gamma rays with sufficient energy to cause ionization—acquires a negative or positive charge) from cosmic rays and solar flares. Astronauts will “see” flashes of light while their eyes are closed, these are actually cosmic rays slashes through their brains [5]. This form of radiation can damage human cells, potentially leading to a diminished immune system and a higher risk of cataracts, cancer, heart disease, damage to the central nervous system
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