Although we still don’t know the full effects of what space travelling does to the human body, scientists have came one step closer to discovering. Scientists have recently discovered that spending a significant amount of time in space thins your skin.
According to a Reuters report, it’s been now revealed that spending enough time in space can make your skin thinner. After returning to Earth after an extended amount of time, a group of researchers led by Professor Karsten Koinig investigated the problem, at the request of NASA and European Space Agency. Researchers used lasers to observe the skin of three astronauts and found out that space does have a few surprising effects on human skin.
“NASA and ESA came to us and asked, ‘is it possible to also look in the skin of astronauts? Because we want to know if there’s ageing process going on or what kind of modification happened to astronauts as they work for six months out in space.’ Because many astronauts complain about skin problem.”
Koinig and his team studied three astronauts — Italian EAS astronaut Luca Parmitano (166 days in space), Italian ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who spent 199 days in space, and German ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, who spent 166 days in space. Each had their skin scanned using lasers to image sections of the skin in high resolution by a technique called tomography.
“We use femtosecond laser pulses. We scan the skin and we get signals from the skin, particularly fluorescence, as well as another signal called second harmonic generation. So with these two signals we can build up images and get a precise look into the skin in high resolution. The resolution is a factor of one thousand times better than ultrasound.”
As NASA is already planning to go to Mars in the 2013s, Koenig’s research will carry huge significance for astronauts who spend a significant amount of time in space. It’s a problem NASA and ESA surely have to solve sooner rather than later.