Loss in Space

When transatlantic steamers traversed the oceans, one line touted itself with ads saying: "Getting there is half the fun." Not so with space travel: Here, an unhealthy situation exists because the travelers' bones lose mass and weaken. Severe bone loss leads to fractures. A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report labeled bone loss as one of the most serious problems facing those who would make long-duration space voyages, such as traveling to Mars.1 Until now, space scientists had information

Harvey Black
Apr 28, 2002
When transatlantic steamers traversed the oceans, one line touted itself with ads saying: "Getting there is half the fun." Not so with space travel: Here, an unhealthy situation exists because the travelers' bones lose mass and weaken. Severe bone loss leads to fractures. A recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report labeled bone loss as one of the most serious problems facing those who would make long-duration space voyages, such as traveling to Mars.1 Until now, space scientists had information only about short-term missions. But NASA was anxious about the astronauts' overall health during long-term space travel and asked the IOM for its input. The IOM's overall conclusion: NASA needs more data. So, researchers at NASA and various universities are exploring countermeasures, including exercise and medication, to determine what would mitigate space travel's effects.

It is possible that a multi-year trip to Mars may never occur. "If no method is...

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