Its been known that spending a long time in a very low-gravity environment is detrimental to your bone and muscle mass, as well as your vision. As if that wasn’t bad enough, scientists have now determined that it can lead to skin and hair problems. A study published on Wednesday in the NPJ Microgravity journal provides evidence based on an experiment done with mice in space.
Mice had thinner skin after 91 days on ISS.
The mice were part of a 91-day experiment set on the International Space Station that took place in 2009. In what was a near absence of gravity for three months, the mice developed poorer, thinner skin, with more degraded collagen molecules.
Weightlessness also had a negative impact on their fur.
The mice also went through something which seemed to resemble a reset of their hair growth cycles, with many follicles active when they should not have been. In fact, the data could have been more definitive if all of the mice had lived. Three of the six mousetronauts died onboard the space station. After analyzing the dead mouse bodies, they hypothesized that living long periods of life in space may mess with the way proteins are processed within skin cells. Some of the damage may have also been caused by a sedentary life in which the muscles aren’t stimulated enough.
Data could be crucial to future manned long-term space missions.
These findings, along with the previous ones on other negative effects of life in space, serve as a stern warning to humans about the dangers of long-term exposure to near-zero g. In fact, people living in the International Space Station before had complained of skin dryness, itching, irritation, and scratches. One German astronaut was checked by professionals, who found that his skin had decreased in elasticity after his stay aboard the space station. Scientists will most likely be searching for solutions to these problems in the near future. Yet, whether they do or don’t find solutions to these problems, they are unlikely to prevent people from embarking on future long-term space missions.