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  (Source: TriStar Pictures)
NASA already responded to the results, saying it will conduct studies of its own

Astronauts have the ability to see planets and other space-related beings in ways most of us never will, but new research shows that astronauts could potentially lose their vision completely by living out this profession.

The University of Texas Medical School at Houston recently performed tests on astronauts who had spent more than one month in space, and found that they had eyeball and brain tissue damage.

Texas researchers studied 27 astronauts who had participated in long-duration NASA missions. Out of the 27, nine had an expansion of the cerebral spinal fluid space surrounding the optic nerve; six of them had a flattening of the rear of the eyeball; four of them had a bulging of the optic nerve, and three of them had changes in their pituitary gland and its connection to the brain.

All of the astronauts studied spent an average of 108 days in space, either on a space shuttle mission or spending time on the International Space Station (ISS). The researchers found that the issues these astronauts have are similar to those caused by intracranial hypertension, where pressure in the brain presses against the eye sockets and skull.

"Microgravity-induced intracranial hypertension represents a hypothetical risk factor and a potential limitation to long-duration space travel," said Professor Larry Kramer, leader of the study at the University of Texas Medical School. "Consider the possible impact on proposed manned missions to Mars or even the concept of space tourism. Can risks be eventually mitigated? Can abnormalities detected be completely reversed?

"The next step is confirming the findings, defining causation and working towards a solution based on solid evidence."

The study has already grabbed NASA's attention. While no astronauts are being pulled from any programs at this point, the space agency plans to look further into these results.

"NASA has placed this problem high on its list of human risks, has initiated a comprehensive programme to study its mechanisms and implications, and will continue to closely monitor the situation," said William Tarver, head of flight medicine at NASA's Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas.

If these results were proven true, it could throw a wrench in many space plans such as SpaceX's idea to develop a reusable launch system for cheap spaceflight and Mars settlement. There are also plans to send an astronaut to an asteroid by 2025 and another to Mars by 2030.

Sources: Phyorg.com, ABC News, The Pioneer



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RE: Well.
By MrBlastman on 3/15/2012 1:05:04 AM , Rating: 2
You're missing a few things... I'll elaborate. :)

quote:
Hypertension medication has side-effects.


They are small. Have you ever been on beta blockers? I am and not for high blood pressure.

quote:
This means a higher launch weight, greater inertia (lower maneuverability) and less space on the ship.


Not that much. We're talking pills here. Beta blockers are quite light weight, I can assure you that. As for inertia... minimal effect at best and not even worth mentioning.

quote:
maintaining gravity should require little/no power since there is little/no drag on the capsule itself.


Nope. You forget this little thing called the people inside touching the walls and manipulating objects within. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. While it might be small, it is parasitic to a degree. Some form of maintenance of the speed is required.

Also, many studies have been done on the coriolis effects of rotational artificial gravity and they can be significant. The RPM of the rotation can not exceed 2 RPM thus requiring a 735 ft radius of rotation--a LARGE ship! This problem is costly and complicated to solve by just saying, "hey, lets do artifical gravity!" The cost of materials to put a craft/parts into orbit to accommodate these needs far outweigh the costs to put some pills into orbit.


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