Identical no longer after a year in space

Mark and Scott Kelly. 

If the results of the Twins Study are like a play, Act 1 began at NASA's Human Research Program 2017 Investigators' Workshop, where the ten teams presented their preliminary findings.

Previous studies showed the effect on the body after the standard-duration six-month missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Scientists compared the effects of space travel to Scott's twin, Mark, who remained on Earth and was treated as the control subject in the study.

The Kelly brothers have almost identical genomes, allowing for an unprecedented look at the physical effects of long-term spaceflight.

The stresses of space travel can alter a person's genetic makeup, NASA says, and the changes can linger even after a return to Earth. NASA called the amount of change "very minimal", but said it could point to possible longer-term changes in genes related to his immune system, DNA fix, bone formation networks, hypoxia (oxygen deficiency), and hypercapnia (excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream).

As we recently detailed, NASA has offered up preliminary findings under its Twins Study, which looks at the impact space travel has on human health. We are at the beginning of our understanding of how space flight affects the molecular level of the human body.

If Kelly's base DNA sequence did actually change by 7 percent, the results would be. less than ideal.

Of course, we are still years away from having such knowledge, since Kelly's year in space is the longest time period for which researchers have this kind of data.

In its report, Business Insider claimed that "seven percent of Scott Kelly's genes may have permanently changed".

"They are still identical twins".

"What do you mean my DNA changed in space?"

NASA has learned that the formerly identical twins are no longer genetically the same. It's Kelly's gene expression that is different, and the changes aren't going away. "This likely is within the range for humans under stress, such as mountain climbing or scuba diving", NASA said in the recent clarificationto the January 31 update.

Bailey said she was concerned the findings were being "sensationalised".

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, left, and his twin Mark.

At no point in that process was Scott Kelly zapped by an alien laser beam, attacked by a xenomorph or otherwise transfigured into a previously unknown mutant variety of human.

However, a more pronounced decrease in speed and accuracy was reported postflight, possibly due to re-exposure and adjustment to Earth's gravity, and the busy schedule that enveloped Scott after his mission, the agency said.

SHAPIRO: He's just a regular guy with space genes.

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