16 March, 2018
The shocking transformation means Scott is no longer genetically identical to his twin. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration used this knowledge to conduct an experiment, hoping to learn if space travel effected human DNA on a fundamental level. This research, they added, will inform their planning for a mission to Mars, which would see astronauts spending some three years in space. The space agency now says space may have nothing to do with the telomere changes as compared with his brother - it may be due to Scott Kelly's "rigorous exercise regime and restricted caloric intake while on the space station". As identical twin astronauts, Scott and Mark were the flawless research subjects for the study's before-and-after comparison.
The findings showed that after a year in space, Kelly had oxygen-deprivation stress, increased inflammation and dramatic nutrient shifts that affect gene expression.
In this photo provided by NASA, International Space Station (ISS) crew member Scott Kelly of the US gestures after landing near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Wednesday, March 2, 2016. This change can stick around with a person even after they return to Earth. Numerous new mutations have only been found in the genes of those who have travelled in space.
"Researchers now know that 93 per cent of Scott's genes returned to normal after landing", NASA said. At least this was the result of NASA analyzes, after which the scientists announced that their DNA had been changed by 7%.
Scott Kelly was honored as the "Scientist of the Year" in 2015 by Laboratory Equipment's sister publication, R&D Magazine.
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Preliminary results from the study were released at a NASA Human Research Program workshop in January, but were picked up by news outlets only in the last week, triggering a flurry of space mutant jokes and misleading headlines.
The study itself focused on four categories of research split into 10 investigations to evaluate the identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly. A majority of those telomeres shortened again within a mere 48 hours back on Earth, according to the findings.
A recent NASA statement suggests that the mental and the physical stresses of Scott's year in space might be responsible for activating numerous "space genes" that changed his immune system, eyesight, bone formation and various other bodily processes.