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New research confirms long term bone loss during long missions in weightlessness

According to new research done on ISS, scientists have confirmed what Soviet-era scientists had learned back in the 20th century, that long term bone loss during long missions in weightlessness can take many months to recover once back on Earth.

The bone density lost by astronauts was equivalent to how much they would shed in several decades if they were back on Earth, said study co-author Dr Steven Boyd, of Canada’s University of Calgary and director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health.

The researchers found that the shinbone density of nine of the astronauts had not fully recovered after a year on Earth – and they were still lacking about a decade’s worth of bone mass. The astronauts who went on the longest missions, which ranged from four to seven months on the ISS, were the slowest to recover. “The longer you spend in space, the more bone you lose,” Boyd said.

The study also confirmed that some exercises in space helped to mitigate the bone loss, which ranged from 1% to 2% per month. No exercises prevented it however.

For missions to Mars, the bone loss appears less of an issue than the loss of muscle strength. Even with extensive bone loss after six months to a year in space astronauts do not notice this loss when returning to Earth gravity. They will certainly not notice it on Mars, with a gravity field 39% that of Earth’s.

More concerning is the loss of muscle strength during long missions in weightlessness. After six months to a year in weightlessness astronauts struggle on Earth to walk after first landing. This is why they are helped immediately placed to chairs upon return. On Mars no such help will be available.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

8 comments

  • Michael McNeil

    Typo alert (minor): 1st paragraph: should be “can take” rather than “can takes”

  • Michael McNeil: Thank you. Fixed.

  • Jeff Wright

    Wheel stations please.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Spinning stations will be a must eventually.

    How are they going to compromise with the the apparent desire for microgravity R&D for manufacturing.

    Will be interesting to watch.

  • Andi

    That microgravity R&D could still be done in the hub of a spinning station., couldn’t it?

  • sippin_bourbon

    Andi,

    I thought of that. There would be limits.
    Any small relative motion as the hub itself rotates would have to be accounted for.

    Non-spinning hubs, with rotating spokes and wheels is a bigger tech problem. And “commuting” from the spinning stations to a non-spinning station for work would be expensive.

  • Andi asked: “That microgravity R&D could still be done in the hub of a spinning station., couldn’t it?”

    Why?

    If you need microgravity, you set up for that. Don’t need a legacy ‘Do Everything Installation’. Many functional ways to do R &D in NEO, and many ways to get there.

  • Edward

    Andi asked: “That microgravity R&D could still be done in the hub of a spinning station., couldn’t it?

    It isn’t so hard to have a despun section. Plenty of early spinning satellites had these, so it isn’t just science fiction.

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