Landmark NASA Twins Study Reveals Space Travel's Effects on the Human Body | 4/11/2019 | Sarah Lewin
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A year on the space station has an undeniable impact across the human body, but many of the body's systems recover after a return to Earth.

Ten teams working on NASA's Twins Study — encompassing 12 universities and 84 researchers — followed the duo before, during and after the flight, tracking the twins' biology to see how the brothers changed over the course of the study. While the research was very limited in scope, scientists planning to send astronauts on long trips to the moon, Mars and beyond will find this data on long-duration spaceflight invaluable.

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Related: By the Numbers: Astronaut Scott Kelly's Year-in-Space Mission

Scott Kelly takes a battery of cognition tests on the International Space Station.

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"Early on in our astronaut career, my brother and I had kind of wondered about it — hey, I wonder if they'll ever do an experiment with the two of us, being genetically nearly identical," Scott Kelly told

But there was no interest for years after the twins' selection as astronauts in 1996, since the sample size would be so small — until Scott brought it up again in 2013 ahead of his record-breaking space station mission, which he shared with Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko. "When it came to the fact that I was going to spend a year in space, it was so unique that I actually thought maybe there was some merit to it … [and] it turns out there was some interest once people started talking about it."

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That discussion snowballed into the massive Twins Study, whose summary paper is being published in full for the first time after releases about preliminary results in 2017 and 2018. This new collection of information, gleaned with intensive, meticulous testing on orbit and on Earth — including for several months after Scott landed — traces...
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