• Question: if someone was to live in space what would be there life expectancy

    Asked by yah its salehaa to Beth, Anne on 12 Oct 2015.
    • Photo: Beth Healey

      Beth Healey answered on 12 Oct 2015:

      Hi there! This is Adrianos from Greece, I am Beth’s predecessor as a research doctor for the European Space Agency in Antarctica and I am filling in for her today due to connectivity problems over there.

      In space there are many parameters which affect our health. There is no gravity and that causes many problems for the body. These range from the cardiovascular to the immune system. Our bones also become less stronger because of the lack of gravity. But the real danger that can threaten the astronauts’ lives is space radiation: powerful rays that naturally come from far away in the universe or from explosions of the sun. Astronauts who stay relatively close to the Earth (like on the ISS) are still protected from such radiation by our planet’s magnetic field. But astronauts that would go to Mars will face a much bigger challenge.

      For the rest of the medical problems that occur in space, our bodies are able to cope with most, for a certain period. No one has ever stayed in space longer than a year and a half so we are not sure about how exactly their health would progress. Maybe the life expectancy of future humans who might live in space would depend also on the efficiency of “countermeasures”. Countermeasures are our way of canceling the bad effects of space on our health: for example, artificial gravity could be used to protect astronauts from having bone problems which occur when they stay for a long time in space.