Since the beginning of space travel scientists have been observing the effect that space has one the human body. Whether it was affecting the physical attributes such as the skin, bones, and eyes or whether it was affecting more of the sociological properties like the brain. or anything else they have studied it. Outer space is a very unknown area currently and every country is racing to find out more than the others. It is still unknown whether spending large amounts of time in outer space are and beneficial or detrimental for human body. Some of the affects on the body from space travel could be harmful such as depression, but they could also be very beneficial like the increase in knowledge gained from traveling to space.
Humans are just at the tip of the iceberg of knowing what else is in the galaxy we live in. Without someone to go out and get the answers to our questions we would never found out. This paper will explain the many positive and negative effects that traveling to space has on the human body. With enough training, the positive affects will take place while leaving behind the negative ones. The effects of no gravity on the brain have so far shown to affect people differently when traveling to space. There have been some astronauts that have gone and felt perfectly fine other than a little boredom while being up there. Other people have recalled feelings of panic, anxiety, and depression while being on these missions. The feeling of being isolated or trapped is an inevitable feeling when being crammed into a tin can for weeks. Nasa usually though does copious amounts of time selecting individuals to endeavor these journeys. The astronauts also go through many months of rigorous training not only physically but mentally for the trip. The amount of training required is different for each mission that they go on.
For instance, “crews for a Mars mission will undergo even more scrutiny and preparation, since they will travel farther and longer than any previous human, being more isolated and confined than we can imagine” (Mars, K 2018). Nasa has also made improvements to the cabin by inserting objects such as LED lights, which can help with sleeping versus the original fluorescent lighting. Nasa also placed journals in the container so that the individuals could not only write down moments from the trip but also to have a safe space to express the feelings and emotions that they are having on the trip. This has not only helped the astronauts by letting feelings out, but also has given researchers insight into the minds of the astronauts while they are in space. The same article from the previous excerpt also discussed of a decline of mood, anger, hostility, loss of morality, and other symptoms that could possibly occur while being in outer space. These feelings that have been listed are simply a probability of what could occur, not a guarantee. Whenever the brain has those feelings of loneliness, it releases cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal gland. Cortisol is commonly referred to as the “stress” hormone. Too much of this can actually begin to affect you physically. Studies have shown that an over average of cortisol can result in overall inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation would begin to affect the blood flow, muscle activity, and keep moving down the line. Being isolated in the solitary confinement of the space capsule has the potential to be very harmful to an astronaut with no ways to a hospital. Misunderstandings and impaired communications with your team members might impact performance and mission success. A lack of fresh food and mean variety, or deficiency in nutrition, may further contribute to physiological and cognitive decrements.
Also, far more autonomy will be required due to the very long communication delays over the vast distances from the space vehicle to Earth. And then there’s the possibility of the third-quarter effect, where morale and motivation decline three-quarters of the way into a mission, regardless of how long the mission lasts. The more confined and isolated humans are, the more likely they are to develop behavioral or cognitive conditions, and psychiatric disorders. Yet again, space travel can affect every individual differently giving more reasons to take the training very seriously. Along with the physiological symptoms associated with space travel there are also some possible immediate problems that could occur. One of the biggest factors that stands out with studies done is the effects of gravity on the vital organs and other body parts. As you can see from the image below, when the body is present in a zero-gravity environment the liquids have nothing to pull them back down to the lower extremities. This if not watched, can cause the potential lose of limbs such as feet, lower legs, fingers, and hands. This is why in space astronauts have to excersize on weighted treadmills and other equipment. This keeps the muscles moving which will in turn move liquids throughout the body. This exercise is also critical to prohibit the atrophy of muscles. If muscles are not used regualry they will begin to essentially disappear. If a astronaut were to lose all muscle while being in space simple tasks, like walking when getting back to earth, would become impossible till the muscle was gained.
The atrophy of muscles can also lead to deteriorating joint function, and can also lead to pain felt throughout the body. Considering muscles the arguably most important muscle, the heart, is also not an exception of shrinking. With this decrease in blood flow the astronauts could pass out, not have enough blood flow to other vital organs, not be able to carry correct number of nutrients throughout the body. This can also cause an decrease in white bloods cells, now affecting the immune system. Without the number of white blood cells to fight off sickness diseases such as childhood chicken pox could reoccur. This lower immune system has the possibility to make astronauts not able to fully finish their mission if they become too ill. It is incredibly hard to treat diseases in space because treatments work a little different on the body in space than they do in space. Another factor of the body that can be affected is the bones. Without the gravity from earth bones will actually begin to lose their density and deteriorate. According to an article from smithsonian. com, “In a single month in space, astronauts can lose as much bone mass as a postmenopausal woman does in a year” (Wei-Haas, M). This would be extremely dangerous for astronauts returning to earth now having less bone density and a decrease in muscle mass. With the proper amount and type of training, astronauts are able to drastically minimize the probability of any of these affects happening while on their mission. Even though many of these effects of traveling to space seem terrifying there are just as many if not more benefits of traveling to space.
The first and most obvious benefit of space travel would be the experience and knowledge gained from taking the trip. Space travel has the ability to expand the mind by introducing us to what is outside our normal area. To be able to use the training needed in a real-world experience is the best way to learn. The high tech of the equipment lets astronauts be able to feel a sense of accomplishment when they successfully master the piece. The sense of accomplishment also comes from being able to use the training given to obtain the data they were sent up to obtain in the first place. Being up in space gives the astronauts understanding of nature and lets them unlock more creative thinking and useful applications for society when they return. Being able to come back and talk to other people into becoming astronauts will increase the number of astronauts we have, in time being able to send more people to space to learn even more about the galaxy we live in. Space exploration leads to advances in science and technology and promotes the development of labor and industrial capabilities, leading to an overall stimulation of private companies and industries, all of which contribute significantly to the economic progress of more space travel.
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