What say you, Scott? Are you OPA or are you sticking with us Earthers? As long as you get me a ticket on the Roci, I don’t care whose side you’re on. After a year in space, astronaut Scott Kelly is back on Earth. Sure, the bone and muscle mass loss aren’t fun, but he did add inches. Two inches to be exact.
If you’re a fan of the Syfy series, The Expanse, or the books, you know the storylines of the Belters and the OPA. Growing up in decreased gravity, Belters were taller and thinner than their Earth counterparts.
Congrats, Scott. You not only take amazing pictures from the ISS, but you brought Syfy to life.
Kidding aside, NASA expected Scott to add inches to his height. Once in zero gravity, an astronaut’s spine begins to elongate. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get to keep the bragging rights for being two inches taller than his twin brother, Mark.
Back on Earth, gravity sets back in and Scott will shrink back down to size. Damn, all that time up there and he doesn’t even get to keep the height advantage. No crazy superpowers that turn into not one, not two, but three terrible comic book movies?
Scott Kelly Returns
With his return, the science continues. NASA wants to know the long-term health impacts of extended space travel. It’s vital to future missions to Mars and beyond. Of particular focus is Kelly’s eyesight.
A majority of astronauts experience mild vision loss. In fact, most astronauts end up changing eyeglasses in space. Researchers will watch to see how Kelly is impacted. Does it return to normal quickly? The amount of data NASA has will dictate how to mitigate risks or a possible solution to the vision issue.
Bone and muscle loss is another concern facing astronauts. Scott Kelly wasn’t using his legs to get around the ISS. Instead, he got to float around for a year. The man was living the dream…
To help offset the loss, astronauts on the ISS had to complete two hours of exercise a day. They either strapped themselves down to a treadmill, bike or used a resistance device to keep muscle loss to a minimum. Now there’s a Bowflex commercial I want to see.
Other impacts NASA researchers will be watching for is the long-term radiation exposure. On the ISS, astronauts can receive 20 times the radiation we receive on Earth. A trip to Mars? That number jumps to 300 times that of Earth. Scientists will search for any impacts on Kelly’s heart, blood vessels, brain and central nervous system. And the potential for any increase in cancer risk.
While Scott Kelly is back on solid ground, his mission isn’t over. The year-long health study will be followed by yearly physical checkups.