MAR 23, 2015 06:01 AM PDT

Twins to be Studied In Space and on Earth

The astronaut Scott Kelly is about to take off for the International Space Station, and if he is like some space travelers, he may temporarily feel a bit foggy or disoriented once in orbit.
Scientists have not had much luck measuring this subtle effect with standard cognitive tests, but now, a group of University of Pennsylvania researchers is trying a new tack.

While Kelly is in space, they will compare his mental performance with that of a uniquely qualified individual who stays behind on Earth. An individual whose brain is about as similar to Kelly's as you can imagine: his identical twin, Mark.

The Penn study of the twins, who grew up in West Orange, N.J., is one of 10 that NASA has approved for the one-year mission, which could launch as early as Friday.
Scientists from other institutions are tackling such topics as space-induced changes in Kelly's immune system, intestinal bacteria, and genetic expression. All of it will be compared with test results from his brother, a retired astronaut.

The goal is to get a better idea of what happens to the human body on a prolonged mission, in preparation for an eventual journey to Mars.


(Source: Philly.com)
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