Space Travel Changes Your DNA - Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

If you’re a regular reader of the Carlos Gamino blog, you know we’ve covered a lot of stories on space, like possible alien invasions, the discovery of 95 new planets, whether the Tiangong-1 Space Station would slam into Earth, and whether private companies are going to start mining the moon. (I can’t help it – this stuff is fascinating!)

And now, researchers have determined that traveling to space can change a person’s entire genetic makeup. Some DNA doesn’t return to normal after spending time in space.

Look at astronaut Scott Kelly: NASA found that about 93 percent of his genes returned to normal upon his return to Earth after spending a year on the International Space Station. The other 7 percent didn’t change back to normal, though. Spaceflight apparently affects gene expression because of oxygen deprivation stress, changes in nutrients (which you can experience on Earth), and increased inflammation.

Cornell University researcher Chris Mason calls these changed genes “space genes.”

In Kelly’s case, the 7 percent of genes that didn’t return back to normal after his year on the ISS are tied to his immune system and DNA repair – as well as other bodily functions. However, most of the other biological changes his body experienced returned to normal within a short period of time.

Would These Genetic Changes Stop You From Traveling to Space?

Someday soon we might all have the opportunity to travel to space, whether it’s a day jaunt to the moon (SpaceX took deposits from two tourists at about $81 million each) or a long-term stay in a colony on Mars… so would you travel to space knowing that your genetics could undergo permanent alteration? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino